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REV. J. J. LIAS, M.A. 



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The General Editor of The Cambridge Bible for 
Schools thinks it right to say that he does not hold 
himself responsible either for the interpretation of 
particular passages which the Editors of the several 
Books have adopted, or for any opinion on points of 
doctrine that they may have expressed. In the New 
Testament more especially questions arise of the 
deepest theological import, on which the ablest and 
most conscientious interpreters have differed and 
always will differ. His aim has been in all such 
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exercise of his own judgment, only taking care that 
mere controversy should as far as possible be avoided. 
He has contented himself chiefly with a careful 
revision of the notes, with pointing out omissions, with 


suggesting occasionally a reconsideration of some 
question, or a fuller treatment of difficult passages, 
and the like. 

Beyond this he has not attempted to interfere, 
feeling it better that each Commentary should have 
its own individual character, and being convinced 
that freshness and variety of treatment are more 
than a compensation for any lack of uniformity in 
the Series. 

Deanery, Peterborough. 



I. Introduction. 

Chapter I. Contents, Authorship and Date, 

Genuineness, Canonicity, of the Book of Judges 9 

Chapter II. The Political, Moral, and Religious 

condition of Israel under the Judges 14 

Chapter III. The Personal character of the 

Judges 23 

Chapter IV. The Song of Deborah 29 

Chapter V. The Chronology of the Period 34 

Chapter VI. Analysis 38 

II. Text and Notes 43 

III. Appendix 209 

IV. Index 217 

Map of the Holy Land .facing Title Page 

** The Text adopted in this Edition is that of Dr Scrivener's 
Cambridge Paragraph Bible. A few variations from the ordi- 
nary Text, chiefly in the spelling of certain words, and in the 
use of italics, will be noticed. For the principles adopted by 
Dr Scrivener as regards the printing of the Text see his Intro- 
duction to the Paragraph Bible, published by the Cambridge 
University Press. 



I. Contents. The book of Judges consists of three parts. 
The first part (ch. i. i, iii. 7) forms an Introduction, obviously 
designed to connect the book with the previous narrative in 
Joshua 1 . We have first a description of the condition of the 
Israelites immediately after Joshua's death, and their relations 
with the Phoenician peoples whom Joshua had left only half 
subdued (ch. i. 1 — ii. 10). Then (ch. ii. 11 — iii. 7) the writer 
proceeds to give a brief summary of his history chiefly from a 
moral and religious point of view, pointing out the cause of 
national misfortunes, namely the disobedience of the people to 
the national law, and their apostasy from the national religion. 
The second part (ch. iii. 8 — xvi. 31) contains the history of the 
Judges. In the third part (ch. xvii. to end) the historian adds 
two episodes of a more private and personal character, obviously 
intended to illustrate the disordered condition of the morals of 
the people, and to point to the value in the author's mind of the 
more regular system of government under which he lived. 
These episodes 2 belong to a period of the history almost im- 
mediately subsequent to the death of Joshua, and are quite 
sufficient to account for the after history of the people. 

1 See note on ch. i. 1. 

2 See notes, especially on ch. xx. 28. Also below, p. 11. 


2. Authorship and Date. The book has been attributed to 
various periods and to various authors. By some 1 the whole of 
the historical Scriptures are supposed (i) to have been reduced 
to their present form shortly before the captivity. Others have 
thought (2) that the book is of early origin, but that the part of it 
containing the history of Micah and the Danites, and the Levite 
and his concubine, was added by another hand. Keil supposes 
(3) from the statement in ch. i. 21, that it was written in the first 
seven years of David's reign, before the capture of Jerusalem 2 , 
and that therefore the statement in the Talmud 3 that the book 
was written by Samuel is so far true that it may have been 
written at his request by one of his disciples 4 . With regard to 
(1) it may be remembered that the book of Judges shews 
many signs of independent authorship. For in Joshua, written 
when the Israelites had not been long in Palestine, and when 
the Book of the Law was the only book of importance in the 
literature of the nation 5 , we meet with very few words and 
phrases not found in the books of Moses. But in Judges, written 
some centuries after the conquest, we find a large number of 
words hitherto unknown. Some of these, it is true, are poetical 
archaisms, which occur in the Song of Deborah, and these, of 
course, must be excepted from the list. But when these have 
been deducted there remain a number of words and turns of 
expression which shew that from a nation of slaves the Israelites 
had grown to be a nation of freemen and conquerors 6 . And 
on the other hand we may remark on the absence of Aramaic 
expressions and words of the later Hebrew which occur in the 
subsequent books. 

We conclude therefore, that the book of Judges, as it stands, 

1 E.g. Ewald, Knobel, Bleek, De Wette, Davidson. 

2 2 Sam. v. 6 — 9, 1 Chron. xi. 4 — 9. 3 Baba-bathra, i^and 15^. 

4 Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary, Introduction. 

5 Unless, with some, we are to regard the Book of the wars of Jahveh 
(Numb. xxi. 14), and the book of Jashar (Josh. x. 13) as separate books. 
See Ewald, History of Israel. 

6 See notes on ch. i. 8, 14, ii. 13, 18, iii. 15, 16, 20, 21, 22, 23, 25, 
31, iv. 6, 10, 13, 18, 21, vi. 2, 26, 38, vii. 3, 5, 13, viii. 7, 21, 31, ix. 
4, 6, 14, 46, xi. 6, xii. 5, xiii. 25, xiv. 12, xv. 8, 9, 16, 19, xvi. 13, 16, 
xix. 1, xx. 12, 32. This list might be largely increased. 


was written later than the previous books of the Old Testa- 
ment. We proceed to inquire whether the author were one 
and the same throughout. At first sight this would not appear 
to have been the case. The third part of the book contains a 
good deal of that peculiar kind of repetition for the sake of 
emphasis, which, found in the earlier historical books, is absent 
from the later ones 1 . But a closer examination of the style does 
not bear out the first impression. Several peculiarities of ex- 
pression are to be found both in the main portion of the book 
and in the appendix beginning with ch. xvii 2 . The preface 
(especially ch. ii.) was evidently written by the author of the 
book upon a general view of its contents. The appendix falls in 
most strikingly with the drift of that general view. Thus it 
becomes more probable that the appendix was compiled by the 
author himself from private and local narratives which had 
fallen into his hands, and which he inserted with but little 
alteration. From whence those narratives were derived may 
perhaps be conjectured. The author was evidently a firm 
partisan of kingly government 3 . To its absence he apparently 
attributes all the disorders of the country, with which the 
system of judges, he felt, was incompetent to deal. He could 
hardly have been in all respects a disciple of Samuel 4 , for that 
great prophet, with a noble enthusiasm, desired rather to main- 
tain the theocracy, and raise the people to its level 5 . The writer 
of the present book, on the contrary, was clearly of opinion that 

1 Specimens of this kind of repetition, where the same story is related 
twice over, the second time with additional particulars, may he found in 
Gen. i., ii., vii. 7—16 ; Josh, iii., iv., vi. 6—9, 12 — 16. In the book of 
Judges it is only found to any considerable extent in the last five 
chapters. See ch. xvii. 1 — 5, xviii. 14 — 20, xx. 31 — 42. 

2 Cf. 1. 8 with xx. 48, i. 27, with xvii. 11. Also i. 1 with xx. 18, 23, 
27, ix. 2 with xx. 5. Also the use of the perfect with the copula, in- 
stead of the more usual historical narrative tense with Vau conversive is 
remarkable, in spite of Keil's attempt to attenuate the force of this 
argument. ^ Compare especially xix. 30, xx. 43 and ch. xv. 14. The 
narrative in ch. xix. appears to have been re-written, for it flows on 
consecutively throughout. 

3 See ch. xvii. 6, xviii. 1, xix. 1, xxi. 25. 

4 As Keil and Delitzsch suppose. 

5 1 Sam. viii. 6 — 22, xii. 16 — 19. 


kingly government alone had been found capable of putting an end 
to the confusions of the times. This conviction points to an early- 
period in the kingly history for the composition of this book. 
Had the writer lived under the later kings, he would have seen 
that, whatever the advantages of kingly government when the 
sceptre was in proper hands, they were by no means so great in 
every case as he supposed. Such intimations of date as we find 
in the book of Judges tend to confirm this view. These are by 
no means so many as are to be found elsewhere, but though we 
can perhaps build no argument on ch. i. 21, yet ch. vi. 24 would 
seem more reconcileable with the early than with the late date 
of this book 1 . Thus we are led to fix some period in the reigns 
of either David or Solomon as the time when the history was 
written. But the contents of the book itself furnish us with 
strong grounds for believing that it was written in the former 
reign. It will be observed that both the episodes related in the 
last five chapters are connected with Bethlehem-judah 2 . The 
scene of the Book of Ruth is laid in the same place. It is 
therefore by no means improbable that these narratives were 
communicated to the writers by David himself. Now we find that 
the prophets Nathan and Gad, who were closely connected with 
David 3 , composed histories. We venture therefore to set down 
the book of Judges as written by one of the above-mentioned 
prophets, or under their supervision, after David had become 
undisputed king over Israel, and after he had overthrown his 
enemies round about, but most probably before the disorders of 
his later years, commencing with Absalom's rebellion. This 
would fix the date between 1042 and 1023 B.C. 

3. Genuineness. The genuineness of the book is vouched 
for (1) by the consideration of its style, mentioned above (p. 10), 
(2) by the general life-like freshness of the narrative, to which 
even so unprejudiced a critic as Ewald frequently testifies, (3) 
by the minute accuracy of its local and other details, which are 

1 See notes on these passages. 

2 ch. xvii. 8, 9, xix, 1, 2, 18. 

3 2 Sam. xii., xxiv. 5 1 Chron. xxix. 29; 2 Chron. ix. 29. 


frequently mentioned in the notes 1 , and (4) by the consideration 
referred to in note on ch. i. 1, that it forms an integral part of the 
authorized historical writings of the Jews, a body of literature 
which is clearly, from internal evidence, written by persons in 
authority, who had access to documents which gave them full 
information on the events treated of, but at such a distance 
of time as rendered a general view of the history possible. 

4. Canonicity. Of this there can be no question. The book 
of Judges forms part, not only of the Septuagint translation of 
the Old Testament Scriptures, but also of the Hebrew text, 
which appears (2 Mace. ii. 13) to have been handed down among 
the Jews from the time of Nehemiah. Though Josephus does 
not mention their names, there is no reason to doubt that the 
twenty-two books whose authenticity he describes as recognized 
in his time, were the same as are contained in our present 
Hebrew Bible. And the universal testimony of all Jewish 
writers establishes the fact that this book was one of the 
Canonical Scriptures of the Jews, that is, it was regarded by the 
Jews as written by inspiration of God. The Christian Church 
has ratified this decision, if not formally, at least effectually. 
Though no representative assembly of the whole Church has 
ever pronounced itself on the Christian Canon, yet practically 
all sections of the Christian Church have agreed to receive these 
twenty-two books, and the book of Judges among them, as those 
Canonical Books, " of whose authority was never any doubt in 
the Church 2 ." 

vi. 2, 4, 15, 33, viii. 24, 26, ix. 51, xiii. 25, xiv. 1, 5, 8, xviii. 7, 21, 
xix. 10, 12, xx. 1, 15, xxi. 19. 

2 Art. VI. of the Church of England. 




I. Conquest of Palestine. In order to understand the 
mission of the Israelites, it will be necessary to glance at the 
circumstances under which they entered the land of Canaan. 
It was no ordinary people that they were commissioned to 
displace. The Phoenicians stood "at the head of the civiliza- 
tion of their time 1 ." They were the greatest maritime and 
commercial people then known. Their colonies had spread 
over all the coasts of the Mediterranean. Their land was 
the home of the arts and sciences 3 . At a far earlier period 
than that of Joshua they had risen to eminence. But this 
was the period of their decay. The vices which for a long 
time had raged unchecked 3 , had at length produced their 
usual effect in sapping the manly vigour of the people. Thus 
the Israelites were destined to play the same part on the 
shores of the Mediterranean in the fifteenth century before 
Christ, that the Germans did in the hour of the decrepitude of 
the Roman empire. There are many common features in the 
two histories. The austerer morals of the invading peoples, 
the slaughter of the vanquished, the adoption too often by the 
conqueror of the habits he began by despising — these were 
equally characteristics of the conquest of Palestine and the fall 
of the Roman Empire. But whereas the Germans infused their 

1 Bachmann, Buck der Ric 'liter. Introduction, p. 21. 

2 See Kenrick's Phoenicia, ch. viii., ix. The Greeks owed their 
literary culture in the first instance to the Phoenicians. The Egyptians 
were great architects, but they do not appear to have attained much 
eminence in the other arts. See an article by Stanley Lane Poole, in 
the Contemporary Review, Sept. 1881. 

3 Gen. xiii. 13, cf. xix. 


national spirit into the institutions of the more civilized people 
they had subdued, the Jews introduced a polity of their own 
into the land in which they settled— a polity of Divine origin, 
destined to produce incalculable results upon the future of the 

II. Institutions of the Jews. The idea which underlay the 
Mosaic institutions was that of a Divine Society, with God as 
its acknowledged head, the books of Moses as its code of law 
and morals, and the priesthood, with its prophetic gift of Urim 
and Thummim 1 , as the medium of communication between the 
Ruler and His people. This idea was never destined to be 
realized. Indeed it was fore-ordained to failure, so far as its 
adoption as a system by the Jewish community as a whole was 
concerned 2 , though its ultimate effect was so beneficial to man- 
kind, and its direct influence so vast upon individuals. During 
the life-time of Joshua and Phinehas, amid much individual 
depravity 3 , an attempt was made to carry on the government in 
accordance with the provisions of the Law. The elders, at first 
appointed by Moses 4 , and afterwards by Joshua, or by the 
common consent of the tribe, we know not which, exercised 
the necessary civil authority among the people 5 . Matters of 
moment, whether of war or peace, but especially the former, 
including, no doubt, the choice of a leader, were decided upon 
by a general assembly 6 , in which counsel was formally asked of 
God. The occurrences in Mount Ephraim and at Gibeah, which 
clearly 7 occurred during the life-time of the "elders that out- 
lived Joshua," give us a momentary glimpse of the working of 
the Mosaic institutions. The last five chapters of the book of 
judges depict to us Israel under circumstances such as we 
never meet again. The memories and traditions of Joshua's 

1 See note on ch. i. i. 

2 Josh. xxiv. 19; cf. Rom. iii. 20; Gal. ii. 16; Heb. vii. 11, 19. 

3 As the narratives in ch. xvii — xxi. shew. 

4 Exod. xviii. 25 ; Numb. xi. 16. 

5 Levit. iv. 15 ; Deut. xxv. 7, 8, xxix. 10, xxxi. 9, 28; cf. Ruth iv. 2, 4, 
Josh. xxii. 44; Judg. viii. 16. 

6 Josh. xxii. 12; Judg. xx. r. 

7 ch. xx. 28. 


government are yet fresh in men's minds. God is still re- 
cognized as the unseen governor of His people. The high 
priest formally asks counsel of Him in times of perplexity 1 . 
The people weep and fast and offer burnt offerings before His 
altar 2 . There is not a hint of idolatry throughout. Marriage 
with heathen women is a thing not even thought of 3 . And the 
ease with which all Israel is gathered together for war 4 , dis- 
playing as it does so marked a contrast with later times, shews 
that the military organization established by Moses, and per- 
fected by Joshua, was still in existence, in all its completeness. 
But this state of things did not last long. The moral strength 
of the people had not been sufficiently developed to maintain it 5 . 
Consequently when the personal influence of the followers of 
Joshua was withdrawn, it fell into abeyance, and the successful 
invasion of Chushan-Rishathaim put an end to it, until the 
time of the great reformation under Samuel 6 . The worship of 
Jehovah still continued, but save in individual cases, its in- 
fluence scarcely extended beyond the immediate neighbourhood 
of the sanctuary 7 . 

III. Collapse of the Israelitish polity. The theocratic 
polity of Israel disappears, then, most probably, with the 
death of Phinehas. Henceforth, individual tribes may possess 
a governmental organization, individual cities may appoint 

1 xx. iS, 23, 28. 2 xx. 26, xxi. 4. 

3 xxi. 7, 16 — 23. 4 xx. 1, 10, 17. 

5 "Israel had as yet scarcely found time to imbue itself deeply with 
the great truths which had been awakened into life in it, and to appro- 
priate them as an inalienable possession. " Ewald, Hist. Israel, II. p. 271. 

6 On the importance of Samuel's reformation see Jost, Geschichte des 
Israelitischen Volkes, 1. 199, "As Moses took them out of Egypt," he 
says, " another was wanted to rescue them from Canaanitish influences. 
This was Samuel." 

7 Hengstenberg adduces the songs of Deborah and Hannah, the 
character of Gideon, and the Nazarite vow of Samson, as evidence that 
the old belief had not entirely died out (Geschichte des Reiches Gottes, 
11. 76). He might have instanced the whole of Sam. i. — iv., including 
the conduct of Hannah and the character of Eli, as proofs that among 
the people a devout minority was to be found quite sufficient to make 
God's Law a living influence, at least to a certain extent, even in the 
worst of times. See also p. 20. 


their elders, two or three tribes may combine for common 
action, but no instance appears of all Israel acting in concert. 
Everything is confusion and disorganization, except when some 
leader arises who is capable of arousing the courage of a dispirited 
people. Then the successful hero becomes the centre of their 
hopes and affections. The whole government is vested in his 
person. He "judges Israel," we are told 1 . That is, the war- 
like leader becomes, by common consent, a civil magistrate. 
He exercises full, and if he pleases, almost despotic authority. 
But the recollection of the Theocracy is yet too vivid to permit 
of his assuming the title of king of Israel, or of his bequeathing 
his power to his descendants 2 . As the history progresses, the 
disorganization becomes more complete. The song of Deborah 
represents the tribes as incapable of a common effort. Judah 
is not even mentioned 3 , and historians have wondered at the 
isolation of this tribe, which, after Othniel, did not produce a 
single judge, and which is not further referred to in the history 
except as being partially included in the general distress caused 
by the incursions of the Philistines and Ammonites. It would 
seem as if the tribe of Judah (in which the small tribe of Simeon 
was included) 4 , secure in its numbers and mountain fastnesses, 
had held aloof from its brethren, and had maintained its inde- 
pendence until subjugated by the Philistines 5 . But not only 
was Judah content to stand apart. Though Ephraim and Ma- 
nasseh and Benjamin and Issachar gave some slight assistance 

1 Some have compared the judges to the Carthaginian and Tyrian 
suffetes. The names are no doubt of common origin, since the 
Carthaginians were the descendants of the ancient Phoenicians who 
spoke a kindred language to the Hebrew. But the suffetes (Ewald, 
Hist. Israel, II. 36; Kenrick, Phoenicia, p. 268) were regular magis- 
trates appointed by public election, and forming an integral portion 
of the political organization of the people, whereas the Judges were 
heroes (cf. Jost I. 175) who owed their influence to a victory over their 
country's oppressors, and whose very office testified to the utter disor- 
ganization of their nation. 

2 Judg. vii. 23. 

3 And was probably therefore not included in Jabin's oppression 
(Jost 1. 178). 

4 See ch. i. 3, 17 ; cf. Josh. xix. 1,9; Numb. xxvi. 14. 

5 See notes on ch. v. 17, viii. 1 ; cf. also ch. xv. 11, 1 Sam. iv. 



in the struggle against Jabin 1 , Reuben, Gilead (i.e. Gad and half 
Manasseh), Dan and Asher held aloof. Upon Zebulun and 
Naphtali fell the brunt of the battle 2 . These two last tribes, 
with the half tribe of Manasseh and part of Asher, took part 
in Gideon's attack on the Midianites, and Ephraim came to 
their assistance afterwards 3 . No mention is made of any other 
tribes, save as scoffing at Gideon and his little band 4 . After the 
deliverance by Gideon matters became still worse. Shechem, 
the capital, so far as Israel had a capital, chooses a king for 
itself without communication with the rest even of its own 
tribe, and the result is civil war. Jephthah ruled only over .the 
region beyond Jordan 5 . The judges who succeeded him were 
judges only of the northern tribes 6 . Samson's authority was 
still more circumscribed, and was due only to the fear inspired 
by his personal prowess. He does not seem ever to have rallied 
round him even the scantiest band of his fellow countrymen. 
And when he is said to have "judged Israel," the words can 
only refer to an extremely limited area, and a jurisdiction of a 
most precarious kind, as the words "in the days of the Philis- 
tines 7 " clearly imply. A kind of hegemony seems to have 
been claimed by Ephraim, as possessing the principal city 
(Hebron, perhaps, excepted 8 ), as well as from its central position, 
and from the tabernacle worship having been set up at Shiloh, 
within its borders. But even this undefined superiority was not 
very cheerfully recognized. Gideon admitted it 9 , but Judah does 
not seem ever to have acknowledged it, and Jephthah the 
Gileadite rejected it with scorn 10 . 

IV. Religious Apostasy. This political disorganization 
was the direct result of the religious declension 11 . The only 
possible means of supremacy and even of safety for Israel was 
a resolute maintenance of the worship of the sanctuary 12 , for 

I ch. v. 14. 2 ch. v. 16 — 18. 3 ch. vi. 35, vii. 24. 
4 viii. 6, 8. 5 xii. 7. 6 xii. 8 — 14. 7 xv. 20. 

8 See i. 10, ix. 1 (notes). 9 viii. 2. 

10 xii. 1 — 4. See also Jost I. 195 ; Hengstenberg II. 72 sqq. ; Hitzig, 
Geschichte des Volkes Israel, 107; Ewald, Hist. Israel, II. 321. 

II Wilberforce, Heroes of Hebrew History, 164, 165. 
12 Hengstenberg 11. 12, 74; Hitzig 107. 


it was the only bond of union, and the only guarantee of law and 
order and political importance that the people possessed. That 
neglected, there existed no other. They could not trust in their 
numbers. In civilization they were the inferiors of the Canaan- 
ites. Simplicity and austere purity of life was their only hope. 
The grossly sensual worship of the Phoenician gods 1 was certain 
to destroy what moral fibre the people possessed. And that, 
as the latter chapters of Judges shew, was very little. The 
Mosaic institutions were at present too lofty and pure for a people 
who had imbibed the vices of slaves, and had been trained in 
the heathen civilization of their Egyptian masters. The personal 
influence of men like Joshua and Phinehas no doubt secured 
a certain amount of external decorum. But occurrences such 
as those related in Numb. xxv. and Judg. xix. shew how insecure 
was the foundation of public morality. As soon as the worship 
of Jehovah was abandoned the only safeguard was swept away, 
and the whole nation speedily became almost as corrupt as 
its neighbours. The history does not fail to point out the 
connection between national apostasy and national ruin, and 
its silence is as eloquent as its direct assertions. Side by side 
with the complaints of the prevalence of idolatrous worship we 
may place the absence of any reference to that which God had 
enjoined. After the invasion of Chushan-Rishathaim there is 
no mention of a national observance of the law of Moses. The 
high priest is never once mentioned. Of the tabernacle worship 
we hear never a word. Micah led the way with his superstitious 
burlesque of the Mosaic rites 2 , in which he had the countenance 
of a descendant of Moses. The Danites soon followed his ex- 
ample 3 . Gideon felt himself compelled to substitute the worship 
of a visible for that of an invisible Jehovah 4 . A few years later, 
and, in spite of Israel's repentance 5 , Jephthah does not appear to 
have had the slightest knowledge of the provisions of God's law 
as affecting his vow 6 , nor does any one suggest them to him. 
Samson and his parents, beyond their acquaintance with the 

1 See note on ch. ii. 11, 13. 2 ch. xvii. 

3 ch. xviii. 4 ch. viii. 27. See Jost I. 183. 

6 ch. x. 16, 6 See note on ch. xi. 36. 

2 — 2 


precepts relating to the Nazarite vow, betray scarcely the 
slightest knowledge of the Mosaic institutions 1 . 

V. Influence of the Mosaic Law. Yet it would be a mistake 
to infer from this wide-spread demoralization and this general 
neglect of the Law that it had been altogether a failure during 
the period with which we are concerned. What its effect upon 
individuals was may be seen in the passages already mentioned 2 , 
as well as in the delightful picture of pastoral simplicity, up- 
rightness, and piety which meets us in the book of Ruth. 
The sacred fire was smothered, not quenched. Its rites may 
have been confined to its own immediate neighbourhood, but 
the worship of the tabernacle must have been kept up in 
almost unbroken continuance throughout the whole of the 
period between Joshua and Samuel 3 . The books of Moses 
still existed as a record of the high ideal set before Israel 
by Jehovah; a record to which his prophets could and did 
appeal 4 . The distresses and disorders in Israel were the evi- 
dent results of a disobedience of its warnings. And the na- 
tional conscience awoke to this fact under the exhortations 
of Samuel. Thus the period of the Judges was an important 
stage in the moral and religious development of Israel. It was 
a time of probation, a time of conflict between untamed nature 
and the discipline enjoined by God 5 . Not only were the pre- 
cepts of the Mosaic law, in their conceptions both of God and of 
duty, far above the level of the Israelites, they were immeasure- 
ably superior to any the world had yet seen. And they had been 
given to a people who were at the time, save in the one point of a 
traditional monotheism — a tradition we have no reason to believe 
very clearly comprehended — probably behind rather than in 
advance of the Egyptians both in philosophical and ethical 
enlightenment. When Joshua died they had only enjoyed the 
advantage of the Mosaic institutions for about 60 years, and a 

1 Cf. ch. xiv. 3, with the strong prohibition in Deut. vii. 3, and Josh, 
xxiii. 12. 

2 See p. 16. 3 Ewald II; 442. 

4 ch. iii. 1 ; 1 Sam. ii. 27 — 30, vii. 3. 

5 Bachmann, Commentary on Judges, Introduction, 


nation whose institutions are far in advance of themselves do 
not, as a rule, appreciate them as they should 1 . But adversity 
was to do its work, and recall Israel to a sense of the blessings it 
had slighted. The reform introduced by Samuel was a pre- 
lude to the glorious times of David and Solomon. And though 
a fresh rebellion against God brought in the end fresh distresses 
upon God's people, yet they never again, whatever their sins may 
have been, sank so low as in the period covered by this book. 
Manifold as were the shortcomings of the Jews, grievous as 
were their misapprehensions of the higher meaning of their 
Law, that Law never, after this, entirely ceased to be both a 
witness to the world at large of One God, holy, just and true, 
Who would reward righteousness and punish iniquity, and a 
protest against the base, impure, unworthy ideas of God current 
among the heathen. 

VI. Israel and her oppress 'ors. A few words should be 
added concerning Israel's oppressors. The first was a king of 
Mesopotamia 2 , no doubt, as his name implies, a monarch of 
that Turanian dynasty founded by Nimrod in Babylon, before 
the Semitic kingdom founded by Asshur in Nineveh attained 
its supremacy. This was probably the last expiring effort of 
the Turanian power in Babylon. We read no more of Assyria 
or Babylon till the reign of Uzziah 3 . And this agrees with 
the recent discoveries from the monuments, which give us a 
time of anarchy and decay, previous to the transfer of power 
from Babylon to Nineveh 4 . 

The next period of oppression marks the last attempt of the 
Phoenicians to regain their ascendency over the land which 

1 We may illustrate this remark by a reference to the history of our own 
country. The laws and reforms of Ina and Offa, of Alfred, of Henry II., 
of Edward I. were excellent, but they were not properly carried out, 
and so, for a time at least, they seemed to fail of their object. The 
history of rising nationalities in our own time will suggest further 

a See note on Chushan-Rishathaim, ch. iii. 8. 

3 2 Kings xv. 19. 

4 See Rawlinson, Ancient Monarchies. Sayce, Babylonian Literature. 
In the latter a valuable summary of recent discoveries in Babylonian 
history is given in a small space. 


had once been theirs. Jabin king of Canaan, no doubt in 
possession of the resources which centres of commerce like 
Tyre and Sidon must have amassed, was a powerful monarch 1 . 
But his decisive defeat by Barak put an end for ever to 
Phoenician ascendency in Palestine, 

The next calamity was of a different character, more re- 
sembling the incursions of the Danes in our own history. 
Nomad tribes, known as the "children of the east 2 ," invaded 
Palestine yearly, not for conquest, but for plunder, and their 
ravages caused the greatest terror and distress. But the signal 
chastisement inflicted on them by Gideon dispersed their 
bands, and delivered Israel permanently from these disorderly 

This deliverance, however, wrought little real good. Since 
the true source of national strength had been forsaken, Israel 
lay at the mercy of her enemies on every side. The Philistines 
on the south, and the Ammonites on the east, endeavoured to 
partition the country between them 3 . The latter put forth as a 
plea their desire to regain the territory which was once theirs, 
but which, after having fallen into the hands of the Amorites, 
had been occupied by Israel 4 . The brunt of the Ammonite 
invasion had to be borne by Gilead. By Gilead, accordingly, 
it was at last repelled. With Jephthah at their head the trans- 
Jordanic tribes organized an expedition into the Ammonite 
territory 5 , and put an end to Ammonite endeavours to subdue 

The Philistine invasion was of a more formidable character. 
Dan and Judah were at the mercy of the invaders till the great 
victory under Samuel 6 . Samson's exploits, though they annoyed 
the Philistines, did not shake the foundations of their authority. 
It is doubtful if he did them as much injury as a guerilla chief 
might have done 7 . For in the time of Eli, who was probably 

1 ch. iv. 3. 3 ch. vi. 3. 

3 x. 7 — 9. 4 xi. 13. 5 xi. 32. 

6 Sam. vii. 10. 

7 Not so much, probably, as the border forays recorded in our history, 
or the raids by the Highlands upon the lowlands of Scotland. 


contemporary with Samson, we find the Philistines penetrating 
beyond Judah and Dan into central Israel 1 . And the whole 
history of Samson implies that he and his countrymen were 
under Philistine dominion 2 . To relate how the Philistine yoke 
was shaken off is beyond our province. Commenced by Samuel, 
the struggle was carried on with varying success by Saul until 
the Philistine power was finally broken by David. 



The history of the Old Testament, as we are often told, differs 
from ordinary history chiefly in this respect, that while in the 
latter we must be content as a rule to trace the secondary causes 
of events, in the Sacred history we are brought face to face 
with the primary cause, namely the Will of God. And thus it 
follows that the ethical lessons which all history is calculated to 
teach, lie more clearly upon the surface in Scripture than else- 
where. It has already been shewn that an ethical purpose 
underlies the whole of this history. And we cannot doubt that 
from the careers of the various Judges we are intended to learn 
what to imitate and what to avoid. 

I. Of Othniel, Ehud, and Barak there is little to be said. 
The significant omissions of the sacred writer in the history of 
Ehud 3 are a sufficient proof of the fact that he did not commend 
a cowardly assassination. Othniel, we are led to suppose, was 
a brave and religious man 4 . Barak was no less personally 
brave, but he was superstitious. He could not conceive of the 
assistance of Jehovah without the personal presence of His 
prophetess 5 . 

1 r Sam. iv. 1, cf. vii. 12. 2 ch. xiii. 1, xiv. 4, xv. tu 

3 See note on ch. iii. 10. 

4 iii. 12, where the declension occurs after his death. 
6 iv. 8, 9. 


II. Gideon's faith was also of no very robust kind. He 
possessed, however, a good deal of that sensitive, self-distrusting 
spirit which seems to mark all those who are called by God to 
high ventures for His cause 1 . And once convinced, he lacks 
neither courage nor conduct. His natural gifts were of a high 
order 2 . To them he adds a strong sense of duty, regardless 
of consequences, when his way is clear before him 3 . His 
natural disposition was gentle and unassuming, and where there 
seemed a reason for it, his inclination was toward measures 
of conciliation 4 . But he could be stern towards the wantonly 
cruel and the faithless to God and their brethren 5 . He had no 
ulterior aims, either for himself or his family in the deliverance 
he wrought for Israel 6 . But though he was sufficiently in- 
structed in the law of God not to take part in the idolatrous 
worship of Canaan, he was nevertheless unable to rise suffi- 
ciently above his age to worship God as He had ordained, 
and he resorts to an unworthy compromise which becomes 
a source of temptation to himself and to his descendants 7 . 

III. Jephthah is a different character. He met with un- 
fair treatment in his youth, which seems to have had an evil 
effect on his disposition 8 . An exile from his country 9 , it was 
not likely that he could have had much acquaintance with the 
precepts of God's law. So he consorts with idle and dissolute 
persons 10 , and the first question he asks when his reputation for 
bravery brings a request for assistance from those who before 
had unjustly treated him, relates to his own personal pre- 
eminence 11 . He was not devoid of great qualities. His reply to 
the king of Moab is temperate and statesmanlike 12 . But he 
could fiercely resent an insult, as the misplaced severity of his 
treatment of Ephraim shews 13 . His impetuosity of character, his 
deep parental affection combined with unbending resolution, as 

1 vi. 15, 22, 36 — 40, vii. 10; cf. Exod. iv. 10 — 14, vi. 12, 30 ; Is. vi. 5 ; 
Jer. i. 6. _ 

2 ch. vi. 12, 14. 3 vi. 27, vii. 15. 

4 viii. 2, 3, 19. 5 viii. 13 — 21. 6 viii. 23. 

7 viii. 27. 8 xi. 2. 9 xi. 3. 10 lb. u xi. 9. 

12 xi. 15 — 27. 13 xii. 6. 


well as his ignorance of the precepts of his religion, come out 
clearly in the narrative of his vow. 

IV. Samson is more fully pourtrayed than that of any 
other of these ancient heroes of Israel. His individuality, 
in all its strength and weakness, is placed forcibly before us in 
this book. He has been regarded by some as a type of his 
country \ He might rather be looked upon as a type of humanity 
at large. His amazing strength, his child-like simplicity, his 
undisciplined affections, his aspirations after better things, his 
yielding to the impulses of his passions, his consequent misery, 
slavery and death, as well as his repentance when it was too 
late, are only too true a picture of human nature, when un- 
subdued by the Gospel of Christ. 

In his history we find some interesting pictures of those far-off 
days. The simple pastoral life of his father and mother, 
Samson's choice of a wife — throwing light as it does upon the 
position of women, and the marriage customs of the age — the 
marriage feast and its amusements, the scarcely concealed con- 
tempt of the dominant race for its subjects, the lawlessness of 
times when might was right 2 — all these serve to explain the 
condition of society in southern Israel under Philistine rule. 
Some have detected a comic vein in the incidents of Samson's 
career 3 . But this characteristic of the history appears to be the 
creation of a vivid imagination. Simplicity and naturalness 
there is, gradually deepening into tragedy as the dark shadow of 
sin indulged crept over Samson's life. At first we read of a light- 
hearted youth, frank, trustful, affectionate, obedient to his parents, 
rejoicing in the consciousness of a strength which as yet has 
never been misused. Then the darker shades of his character 
begin to appear. Promptness to avenge an injury, fierce re- 
sentment against the oppressors of his country, quickened into 
action by wounded affections, are developed by the high-handed 
treatment of the Philistines. And then, after an interval, we 

1 Hengstenberg II. 63. 

2 See ch. xiv. 15, xv. 6. 

3 See Ewald, History of Israel, II. 399, 400 ; Milman, Hist, of the 
Jnvs y 1. 257. 


have as it were a second Samson, the older and better self 
being "as good as buried 1 ", when the second sad chapter of 
his life begins with ch. xvi. Here we find that " the man who 
had burst the fetters of his foes could not break the cords of his 
own lusts 2 ". After a course of lawless indulgence, he becomes 
the helpless slave of one of his paramours. We find him like a 
moth fluttering round a candle, each time coming more peril- 
ously near to the fatal revelation of his secret. And then, that 
secret once revealed, we see him in the hands of his enemies, 
blinded, fettered, degraded, the sport of those who had once 
trembled at his name. And it is here that our great poet, with 
the touch of a fellow feeling, takes him up, and gives us a 
picture of the hero in his last hours, which is unsurpassed by 
any effort even of his great genius. 

Why was my breeding ordered and prescribed 
As of a person separate to God, 
Design'd for great exploits, if I must dye 
Betray'd, Captiv'd, and both my Eyes put out, 
Made of my Enemies the scorn and gaze ; 
To grind in Brazen fetters under task 
With this Heav'n-gifted strength? 

Yet stay, let me not rashly call in doubt 
Divine Prediction ; what if all foretold 
Had been fulfilled but through mine own default, 
Whom have I to complain of but myself? 

But peace, I must not quarrel with the will 
Of highest dispensation, which herein 
Happ'ly had ends above my reach to know : 
Suffices that to me strength is my bane, 
And proves the source of all my miseries; 

O loss of sight, of thee I most complain ! 
Blind among enemies, O worse then chains, 
Dungeon, or beggery, or decrepit age ! 

O dark, dark, dark, amid the blaze of noon 

Irrecoverably dark, total eclipse 

Without all hope of day ! 

O first created beam, and thou great Word, 

1 Hengstenberg II. 61. 

2 St Ambrose, cited by Keil. See note on ch. xvi. i. 


Let there be light, and light was over all ; 
Why am I thus bereaved thy prime decree? 
The Sun to me is dark 
And silent as the Moon. 

To live a life half dead, a living death 
And buried ; but O yet more miserable ! 
My self, my Sepulchre, a moving grave. 

Milton, Samson Agonistes. 

The exploits of Samson have been thought to have suggested 
those of the Greek Heracles 1 . It is possible that the Greek 
myth may have originated in the incidents of his life. In one 
respect the Greeks have improved on their model. Samson 
becomes in their hands no mere local chieftain, fighting "for 
his own hand " against the oppressors of his country. He be- 
comes a kind of knight-errant, doing life-long battle against all 
oppressors and abuses, and yet withal most human. 

Fired with such burning hate of powerful wrong 
So loving of the race, so swift to raise 
The fearless arm and mighty club and smite 
All monstrous growths with ruin. 

and yet was the while 
A very man, not cast in mould too fine 
For human love, but ofttimes snared and caught 
By womanish wiles, fast held within the net 
His passions wove. 

Epic of Hades, Deiaueira, 

Still the Hebrew narrative touches here as ever, a deeper 
chord of moral truth. Samson's history, like every other in 
Holy Writ, illustrates the misery of sin and the beauty of 
holiness. It brings before us a man, strong in the power of a 
consecration to God's service, and a mission from Him to over- 
throw His enemies. It represents him as victorious as long as 

1 " Herculem Thebanum non male compares, ingenti robore corporis 
animique, mulieribus addictum." Grotius on Judg. xiv. 15. He is 
only " the Samson of the inspired record, distorted, and robbed by the 
thick vapours of heathendom of the moral teaching which breathes 
everywhere from the history of Manoah's son." Wilberforce, Heroes of 
Hebrew History ', 193. 


that divine consecration is maintained, and the vow with which 
it was connected is observed. But the indulgence in sensual 
lusts is fatal to that consecration 1 . The strength from above 
departs, and the victim of sin becomes a miserable slave to 
those whom in his days of innocence and piety, he had despised. 
No more striking illustration could be conceived of the tyranny 
of evil habits, no more moving exhortation to preserve carefully 
the sources of that strength which cannot be maintained, except 
by purity and self-control. 

VI. Of the typical character of these heroes of ancient Israel 
it is not necessary to say much. The whole struggle of the 
people of God against their heathen environment is, as St Paul 
implies 2 , typical of the struggle of the Christian Church and of 
the individual Christian against the evil influences around. 
Each of these deliverers of Israel is moreover in some sense 
typical of the One great Deliverer of Israel, in Whom all that 
was great, strong or worthy in humanity finds its counterpart. 
But there is no marked typical character in the life of Gideon, 
Jephthah or Samson, such as we see in Moses or Joshua, David 
or Elijah. Yet the early fathers, Origen, Ambrose, Augustine 
and others, especially the two former, carry out their allegorical 
treatment of this history in a number of fanciful details. Perhaps 
the most effective specimen of this kind of allegory is to be found 
in St Augustine 3 , in which he compares Samson's arms, ex- 
tended to grasp the two pillars, to those of our Lord extended 
on the Cross, and draws a parallel between Samson's death, 
more fatal to his enemies than his life, and that of Christ, 
Whose death achieved for mankind what His life in the flesh 
could never have purchased for them. But, like the solar myths 
which some discover in the history of Samson 4 , these creations 
belong rather to the region of poetry or fancy than of historical 

1 " Would that he had been as cautious in preserving grace, as strong 
in overcoming an animal !" Ambrose, De Spiritu Sancto, Bk. II. 

2 i Cor. x. i, 2. 3 Serm. 107, De Temp. 

4 Dr Steinthal, in Prof. Goldziher's Mythology of the Hebrews, who 
derives Samson (Shimshon) from Shemesh, Sun. 




Hebrew poetry in general would naturally be discussed under 
the head of the poetical books. But inasmuch as one of the 
oldest as well as one of the most striking of the lyric poems of 
the Hebrews occurs in this book, a few words about the prin- 
cipal features of their poetry may not be out of place. 

1. Early Hebrew poetry. The earliest Hebrew poem is the 
song of Lamech (Gen. iv. 23) \ Noah's blessings and curse on 
his sons comes next (Gen. ix. 25). After this comes Jacob's 
blessing (Gen. xlix). Then we have the first battle ode of the 
Israelites, the stirring song of Miriam (Exod. xv.). In Numb. 
x - 35) 3^) we have the germ of that magnificent processional 
Psalm (Ps. lxviii.) which, according to many commentators of 
note 2 , was composed for the setting up of the ark at Jerusalem, 
and which embodied part of Deborah's song 3 . In Numb. xxi. 
we have numerous extracts from early poems which have not 
come down to us, such as the song of the wars of Jehovah 
(v. 14), the song of the well {v. 17), the song of the victory over 
Moab (vv. 17 — 30). After this the only other poetical pieces 
which have come down to us are the two songs of Moses in 
Deut. xxxii., xxxiii., unless the superscription of Ps. xc. be 
accurate, as many have believed it to be. It is strange that 

1 Unless we regard the curse of Adam (Gen. iii. 14 — 16) as poetry. 
But the prose of strong emotion or solemn prediction often assumes 
a poetic form. " One may fairly say that a rigorous distinction between 
poetry and prose was unknown to the Israelitish writers, as it 
still is to nations on a low level of worldly culture." Rev. T. K. 
Cheyne in Variorum Teacher's Bible. The priest's blessing (Numb. vi. 
23 — 26), may perhaps be a specimen of this border land between 
poetry and prose. 

52 See Perowne on the Psalms. Ps. lxviii. Introduction. 

3 See notes on ch. v. 


Joshua's victories do not seem to have been celebrated in song, 
except the extract from the "book of Jasher" in ch. x., which 
seems to be a quotation of some poem. Nothing more has 
been handed down to us until the victory of Mount Tabor once 
more awakened the poetic muse of the children of Israel. 

2. Characteristics of Hebrew poetry. The more polished 
forms of metre and rhyme were unknown to primitive poetry, 
though the Greeks, as is seen in the poems of Homer and 
Hesiod, adopted this more exact form at a very much earlier 
period than other nations. In Hebrew poetry a rude kind of 
rhythm, accompanied by a good deal of alliteration, is all that 
is found. The alliteration is much less, conspicuous, how- 
ever, than it was in the early Anglo-Saxon poetry, in which 
it was a necessary feature 1 . But the one most conspicuous 
characteristic of Hebrew poetry is what is called parallelism, 
in which the second portion of a distich embodies an idea in 
some way corresponding to the first. This was due to the 
custom of antiphonal recitation, such as we find mentioned in 
Exod. xv. 21. It is still kept up in a manner in the singing of 
the Psalms among ourselves. But the rationale of it is altogether 
lost in our habit of singing the whole verse antiphonally in- 
stead of only a part of it. 

Hebrew parallelism is of various kinds, (a) Synonymous 
parallelism. This occurs when the second portion of the verse 
simply repeats the idea of the first in different words. This is 
the most common form of parallelism. We find it in the song 
of Lamech (Gen. iv. 23), and it meets us frequently in the song 
of Deborah 2 . 

1 In Anglo-Saxon poetry the rule was very definite. The lines were 
divided into couplets, and in each couplet the alliteration was expected 
to occur twice in the first, and once in the second line. See for instance 
the following passage from Caedmon : 

Zfalig & /^ofon-beorht 
//atan fyres. 
This alliteration is still the chief feature of English poetry as late as 
Langland, who was contemporary with Chaucer. It has recently been 
revived with effect by the Laureate. 

2 See w. 3—6, 12, 15, 18, 21, 23, 24, 26, 27, 23. 


(b) Antithetic parallelism. This is where the second member 
of the sentence expresses the opposite idea to the first. Of this 
the only instances in Deborah's song are found in vv. 25, 31. 
This form of parallelism, though it is frequently to be found in 
the later Hebrew poetry, is rare in the earlier. But instances 
may be found in the blessing of Jacob, Gen. xlix. v. 19, 27. 

(c) Corroborative parallelism. A third kind of parallelism 
is when the second member of the sentence extends and com- 
pletes the idea of the first. A good instance of this is to be 
found in the song of Lamech, Gen. iv. 24. It is to be found in 
the first verse of Deborah's song, where the idea of the readiness 
of the leaders is reinforced in the second member of the 
sentence by the responsive willingness of the people. So also 
in v. 10, 12, 14, 19. Some fine examples of this are to be found 
in Ps. xix. 7 — 11. 

(d) Introverted parallelism. This is where, in four 1 clauses, 
either (1) the first corresponds to the last and the third to the 
second, or (2) the first to the third, and the second to the 
fourth. An instance of (1) may be found in Proverbs xxiii. 
15, 16: 

{1 My son, if wise be thy heart 
J 3 My heart shall rejoice, even mine also, 
(4 And my reins shall exult 
2 When thy lips speak words of uprightness. 
An instance of (2) can be found in the song of Deborah itself, 
v. 19: 

1 The kings came, they fought, 

3 Then fought the kings of Canaan 

2 At Taanach, hard by the waters of Megiddo, 

4 Spoil of silver did they not take. 

1 Or even, as has been thought by Bishop Jebb, eight. But the 
theory has been carried to an extravagant extent. Thus it has been 
supposed that in Ps. cxxxv. 15 — 18, the first line corresponds to the 
eighth, the second to the seventh, the third to the sixth and the fourth 
to the fifth — a supposition altogether destructive of the true parallelism 
of the passage. 


(e) Beside this simple correspondence of the first and second 
members of the sentence there is also a construction in which 
the two parallel members of the sentence lead up to a kind of 
conclusion or climax. Of this we have many instances in the 
song before us. Thus in v. 7 we have (1) the faintheartedness 
of the rulers, (2) the awakening of a new spirit in Israel by 
Deborah, (3) a heightening of the effect by the words "mother 
in Israel ;" v. 8 carries on the idea to its climax by first intro- 
ducing the proclamation of war, and next by referring to the 
unarmed condition of the people. Thus the description of the 
leaders in Israel (v. 9) is naturally introduced, and in v. 10 this 
description is again heightened by successive touches. In 
vv. 15, 16, we have a more definite repetition at the end of the 
strophe, of the idea with which it commenced, with an inter- 
mediate parallel sentence placing the scene in descriptive 
language clearly before our eyes. V. 30 is a good double 
instance of this construction. 

(f) And finally, there are many verses in which the second 
part of the thought has no correspondence to the first, but the 
two are connected together by a more or less rhythmical flow of 
syllables. No instances of this occur in the song before us, but 
they are very common elsewhere. A beautiful example may be 
seen in Deut. xxxii. 10, 11. 

3. Characteristics of the Song of Deborah. Poems like these, 
in celebration of some great national victory, are common in the 
literature of every people in its early stages. Our own literature 
contains one remarkable specimen, included, like Deborah's 
song, in the national annals. This is the song of the battle of 
Brunanburh, which unexpectedly interrupts the prosaic details 
of the Saxon Chronicle 1 . Similar specimens of lyric poetry 
may be found in Ranke's Servia and Montenegro' 1 . The poems 

1 See Saxon Chronicle, Reign of Aethelstan, A. D. 937. 

2 He gives piesmas, as they are called, relating to modern events, such 
as the conquest of Venice by Bonaparte, and the taking of Cattaro in 
1 81 3. The following passage, taken from a pies?na on a battle fought 
in 1832, may be interesting as an illustration. "He may go now, the 
Pacha Namik-Hamil, and pay his court to the pure Tsar of Stamboul, 


of the Hebrews were sung on festive occasions to the accom- 
paniment of cymbals and drum or tambourine 1 , but were 
probably, like the Greek and other early epic and lyric poems, 
also recited in a kind of rude chant without such accompani- 
ment. The song of Deborah is an admirable specimen of such 
compositions. Though it falls short of Miriam's song in grandeur 
and solemnity, it is unrivalled in the vigour and picturesqueness 
of its descriptive passages 2 . The description of the Reubenites 
taking counsel in the comfort of their pastoral retreats and yet 
doing nothing ; the enumeration of the heavenly forces arrayed 
against Sisera, the fierce energy of the curse on Meroz, 
suddenly introduced into the vivid picture of the utter rout of 
Sisera and his chariots, may be instanced as especially fine 
passages where all is excellent. But the grandest portion of the 
poem is its conclusion, a climax to which all the rest leads up, 
wherein Sisera's death is described, and the disappointment of 
his mother's vain expectations of his triumph. It may safely be 
said that this portion has never been surpassed by any poetry 

4. Historical value of the song. The song of Deborah 
is invaluable for the glimpse we obtain of the feelings of the 
Israelites, the conditions and customs of the country, the rela- 
tions of the tribes 3 . As we read it, we not only seem to see the 
warriors of Israel assembling for the battle, but we see the 

who had given him the command of his fine Nizams that he might change 
calves into lions. Serb falcons, how well you put the Imperial Pachas 
back into the right road with your carbines, that they should not lose 
themselves and their men in the deep forests." But the earlier poetry is 
much superior to the later. See Ranke, Montenegro, ch. iii. — v. 

1 Heb. topk. See Exod. xv. 20. Also note on ch. xi. 34. 

2 "Deborah's hymn of triumph was worthy of the victory. The 
solemn religious commencement — the picturesque description of the 
state of the country — the mustering of the troops from all quarters — 
the sudden transition to the most contemptuous sarcasm against the 
tribes that stood aloof — the life, fire and energy of the battle — the bitter 
pathos of the close — lyric poetry has nothing in any language which can 
surpass the boldness and animation of this striking production." Milman, 
History of the Jews, I. 247. 

3 See Milman, Hist, of the J civs, Vol. I. 

judges ? 


pastoral life of the quiet villages, the simple dignity of the men 
of influence. We see that patriotic feeling and devotion to 
Jehovah, though rare, were by no means extinct. We see 
a picture of a downtrodden people, obliged to forsake the 
beaten tracks, and to wander through hidden recesses. Though 
the feeling expressed toward Jael may be exaggerated, yet we 
can understand the revulsion of joy and gratitude which burst 
forth when the oppressor was slain. And the song contains 
the most interesting information about the condition and occu- 
pations of the tribes, the isolation of Judah, the irresolution of 
Reuben, the indifference of Gad, the selfish conduct of Dan and 
Asher, engrossed in commercial and maritime pursuits. Nothing 
else in the sacred narrative gives us such an insight into the 
inner life of Israel as this song. 



The chronology of the Book -of Judges is involved in some 
difficulty. Upwards of fifty different ways of explaining it have 
been suggested 1 . Many of these are fanciful and capricious, 
but it must be admitted that sufficient data do not exist for 
the complete solution of the problem. For first of all the notes 
of time are indefinite, especially after the time of Gideon. Up 
to that date they are explicit enough. And we are also told 
that the period of apostasy which followed him commenced 
"as soon as he was dead 2 ." But from the time of Abimelech 
onward we have no definite marks of time. The narrative 
simply says " after him." And as Israel grew more disorganized 

1 Bennigsen, cited in Keil and Delitzsch, Com?nentary, p. 276 
(English Translation). See also Winer, Realw'drterbuch> II. 527, 8). 

2 ch. viii. 33. 


the sphere of the Judges' influence became more contracted, 
until the later Judges became, as is evident, mere local authori- 
ties. Jair seems to have been the last who possessed any- 
general authority, for we read that, though a Gileadite, he died 
in the land of Canaan 1 , which implies that he had lived there. 
Thus it becomes almost certain that the period between Jeph- 
thah and the death of Abdon overlaps the narrative of chapters 
xiii. — xvi., and that this again overlaps the history in I Sam. 
i. — vi. Again, the periods of seven, twenty, forty and eighty 
years given in the Book of Judges have all the appearance of 
being round numbers, rather than exact dates. Any attempt 
therefore to construct a series of dates for the whole period 
must necessarily fail. 

We have then to examine whether there be any definite 
marks of time which may give us a general, as contrasted with 
a consecutive, view of the chronology of the period. And this 
is given (i) by the statement in i Kings vi. i. that the period 
between the Exodus and the dedication of the temple was 480 
years. It is true that this is not absolutely beyond doubt. The 
LXX. reads 440 2 , but this reading was generally abandoned 
even from very early times 3 . A second mark of time has been 
thought to have been given (2) by St Paul in Acts xiii. 20. But 
the text in this passage varies very much, and it appears more 
probable that the date referred to the interval between the call 
of Abraham and the conquest of Palestine. A third standard 
has been thought to be fixed (3) by the genealogies in the Book 
of Chronicles 4 . But this, again, is a somewhat unsubstantial 
basis for a chronology. In the genealogy of our Lord, given by 
St Matthew, there are several omissions. The time, moreover, 
which is covered by these genealogies is shorter than the 
hiscory requires, and if adopted, leads to the arbitrary attempt, 

1 See note on ch. x. 5, and cf. xii. 7. 

2 In the Vat. and Alex. Codices. Some editions have altered the 
text to correspond with the Hebrew. 

3 Thus Aquila and Symmachus adopt the present Hebrew text. It 
is rejected altogether by Canon Rawlinson in the Speaker's Com??ientary y 
1 Kings vi. 1, but apparently on insufficient grounds. 

4 See Speaker's Commentary, Judges. Introduction. 



already mentioned, to remove the date in I Kings vi. from the 
text. Lastly, we have (4) Jephthah's statement that 300 years 1 
had elapsed since the overthrow of Sihon. 

We may therefore give the following table of the period be- 
tween the Exodus (circ. B.C. 1491) and Jephthah's deliverance : 

The wandering in the wilderness 

Conquest of Palestine 

To the death of Joshua 

The elders that overlived Joshua 

40 y< 

7 j 
10 j 
10 , 

Chushan-Rishathaim's oppression 
Othniel's deliverance — rest 

8 , 
40 . 

Moabite oppression 
Ehud's deliverance — rest 

18 , 
80 . 

Jabin's oppression 
Deborah's deliverance — rest 

10 . 
40 , 

Midianite oppression 
Gideon's deliverance — rest 

7 s 
40 , 


3 , 


23 , 


22 , 

Period to Jephthah 


If we reckon the period of Samuel's judgeship and Saul's 
reign to be 40 years, David's reign of 40 years and the three 
years from Solomon's accession to the dedication of the temple 
(1 Kings vi. 1), this will give a period of only 30 years for the 
events described in chapters xi. — xvi., of the Book of Judges, 
and i. — vii. of the first book of Samuel. It must be admitted 
that this interval is too short 2 . It is also a question whether 
the period of 20 years from the settlement of Palestine to the 
death of the "elders that outlived Joshua" is long enough. 
Josephus makes Joshua to survive the conquest of Canaan 25 
years. But if we suppose, as we have seen there is good 
reason for doing, that the periods of rest and oppression are 
round numbers, quite sufficient margin will be left for the 
extension of these two periods to a sufficient length to satisfy 
the requirements of the history. And the 300 years mentioned 
by Jephthah are also sufficiently near to the truth, for deducting 
the 40 years during which the Israelites wandered in the wilder- 

1 Obviously in round numbers. 

2 See however note on ch. xiii. 1. 


ness, we have 328 years from the conquest of Heshbon to the 
time of Jephthah. And if this period be reduced by shortening 
somewhat the various periods of rest assigned to the children of 
Israel we have a very close approximation indeed to accuracy in 
Jephthah's statement. There is every probability, on the other 
hand, that the events related in ch. xiii. — xvi. may have occurred 
in the time of Jephthah and his successors, mentioned in ch. xii. 
Nor is there anything in the history to prevent the narrative of 
1 Sam. i/ — iii. from having occurred in the days of Abdon the 
Pirathonite, for he lived in Mount Ephraim, and that district 
seems to have enjoyed comparative quiet in the days of Elkanah 
and Eli. The battle of Aphek may have occurred immediately 
after his death. The exploits of Samson probably occurred in 
the dark days which followed this triumph of the Philistines, 
and synchronize with the period which immediately preceded 
Samuel's appeal to Israel related in 1 Sam. vii. 3. 

It is not pretended that this is more than an approximation to 
the actual dates of the events related in the Book of Judges. 
Any attempt to construct an exact system of chronology is 
clearly impossible. Yet inasmuch as the date usually fixed for 
the Exodus, and the date actually ascertained from the Egyptian 
monuments of the accession of Sheshonk, or Shishak, give a 
period of about 475 years from the Exodus to the accession of 
Solomon, it may be safely concluded that the date of the occur- 
rences in this history may be fixed within about 15 or 20 years, 
as near an approach to accuracy as can be expected. 





Introduction. The condition of Israel after the death of Joshua : 
i. — in. 7. 
Section 1. Israel and the Canaanites. 

(1) The prosecution of the conquest. Defeat and 

death of Adoni-bezek i. 1 — 9. 

(2) Caleb's exploits and their results i. 10 — 15. 

(3) Movements of the Kenites i. 16. 

(4) Further expeditions of Judah and Simeon i. 17 — 21. 

(5) Capture of Bethel i. 22 — 26. 

(6) Inaction of the remaining tribes i. 27 — 36. 

Section 2. IsraeVs apostasy. 

(1) The message of Jehovah and the repentance of 

the people ii. 1 — 5. 

(2) The contrast in the days of Joshua ii. 6 — 10. 

(3) The subsequent condition of Israel 

(a) They served Baal and Ashtaroth ii. n — 13. 

(b) They were delivered into the hands of 

their enemies ii. 14, 15. 

(c) Alternate deliverance and rebellion ....ii. 16 — 19. 

(d) Israel left exposed to her enemies ii. 20 — 23. 

(e) The description of these enemies iii. r — 7. 


The Judges. 
Division I. Othniel, Ehud, Deborah, Barak, in. 7 — v. 

Section 1. Conflicts between Israel and nations external to Canaan, 

(1) Oppression by Chushan-Rishathaim and Delive- 

rance by Othniel iii. 8 — n. 

(2) Servitude under Moab and Deliverance by Ehud iii. 12 — 30. 


Section 2. Renewed conflict with the inhabitants of Palestine. 

(1) Shamgar and the Philistines iii. 31. 

(2) Oppression of Jabin iv. 1 — 3. 

(3) Barak offers resistance iv. 4 — 14. 

(4) Battle of the Brook Kishon, Discomfiture and 

death of Sisera iv. 15 — 24. 

Section 3. The triumph song of Deborah. 

(1) Introduction and prelude to Part I. Part I. — 

the Gathering v. 1, 2. 

(2) The glorious acts of Jehovah v. 3 — 5. 

(3) The condition of Israel before Deborah's inter- 

vention v. 6 — 8. 

(4) Glorious results of the patriotism of the people .v. 9 — 11. 

(5) Prelude to second part of song. Part II. — 

the battle v. 12. 

(6) The muster v. 13 — 15a. 

(7) Contrast between the warriors and the laggards .v. 15^. — 18. 

(8) The gathering of the foe — his discomfiture v. 19 — 22. 

(9) The curse of Meroz, the blessing of Jael v. 23, 24. 

(10) Jael's exploit v. 25 — 28. 

(11) Sisera's mother and her high expectations v. 28 — 30. 

(12) Conclusion v. 31. 

Division II. Gideon and his son Abimelech : vi.— ix. 
Section 1. The overthrow of the freebooters. 

(1) The oppression by Midian vi. 1 — 6. 

(2) The message of the prophet vi. 7 — 10. 

(3) The Call of Gideon vi. n — 24. 

(4) The destruction of the altar of Baal and its results vi. 25 — 32. 

(5) Preparations for the conflict vi. 33 — 40. 

(6) The selection of the warriors vii. 1 — 8. 

(7) The dream, and Gideon's encouragement thereby vii. 9 — 14. 

(8) The defeat of Midian vii. 15 — 25. 

(9) The complaint of Ephraim viii. 1 — 3. 

(10) The pursuit viii. 4 — 12. 

(n) The chastisement of Succoth and Penuel viii. 13 — 17. 

(12) Death of Zebah and Zalmunna and dispersion of 

their host viii. 1 8 — 2 1 . 


Section 2. Gideon's later years, 

(1) He refuses the crown viii. 24, 25. 

(2) He establishes a corrupt form of worship viii. 24 — 27. 

(3) Last days of Gideon — his family viii. 28 — 32. 

(4) Renewed apostasy of Israel viii. 33 — 35. 

Section 3. Abimelecti s disastrous reign. 

( 1 ) Abimelech's usurpation ix. 1 — 6. 

(2) Jotham's parable ix. 7 — 2r. 

(3) Gaal's conspiracy ix. 22 — 33. 

(4) Battle before Shechem. Defeat of Gaal ix- 34 — 45- 

(5) Further campaign and death of Abimelech ix. 46 — 57. 

(6) Judgeship of Tola and Jair x. 1 — 5. 

(7) Renewed Apostasy of Israel x. 6 — 9. 

(8) Repentance of Israel and preparations for resist- 

ance x. 10 — 18. 

Division .II. Jephthan and nis successors : xi., xii. 
Section 1. yephthah' s deliverance. 

(1) Jephthah's antecedents and election to the leader- 

ship xi. 1 — 11. 

(2) Jephthah's negotiations xi. 12 — 28. 

Section 2. yephthah and his daughter. 

(1) Jephthah's Vow xi. 29 — 33. 

(2) The fate of Jephthah's daughter xi. 34 — 40. 

Section 3. yephthah and the Ephraimites, xii. 1 — 7. 

Section 4. yephthah' s successors, xii. 8 — 15. 

Division iy. Samson's exploits and fate. 
Section 1. Samson's birth, xiii. 1 — 25. 
Section 2. Samson's marriage and its results. 

(1) Samson's marriage xiv. 1 — 11. 

(2) The riddle and its consequences xiv. 12 — 20. 

(3) Samson's revenge xv. 1 — 8. 

(4) Samson delivered to the Philistines xv. 9 — 13. 

(5) The destruction of 1000 men with the jaw-bone 

of an ass xv. 14 — 17. 

(6) The miracle at Lehi xv. 18 — 20. 


Section 3. Sams oil's Fall. 

(1) Samson's exploit at Gaza xvi. 1 — 3. 

(2) Samson's infatuation for Delilah and her 

treachery xvi. 4 — 20. 

(3) Revenge and Death of Samson xvi. 21 — 31. 


Incidents illustrative of the social condition of Israel. 
Ch. xvii. — xxi. 

Division I. Micah and the Danites. 
Section 1. Micah' s idolatry. 

(1) Micah's theft and image worship xvii. 1 — 6. 

(2) The Levite appointed Micah's priest xvii. 7 — 13. 

Section 2. The settlement at Laish. 

(1) The exploring expedition xviii. 1 — 10. 

(2) The Danites seize Micah's teraphim xviii. 11 — 21. 

(3) The complaint of Micah and its result xviii. 22 — 26. 

(4) The capture of Laish xviii. 27 — 31. 

Division II. The outrage at Gibeah and its punishment. 
Section 1. The outrage, xix. 1 — -30. 
Section 2 . The war between Israel and Benjamin. 

(1) The deliberation and decision of Israel xx. 1 — 10. 

(2) Israel's action and Benjamin's reply xx. 11 — 17. 

(3) The conflict xx. 18—48. 

Section 3. How the tribe of Benjamin was preserved from extinction, 

xxi. 1 — 25. 


Chap. I. i — 9. The prosecution of the Conquest of Canaan. 


ow after the death of Joshua it came to pass, that the 1 
children of Israel asked the Lord, saying, Who shall 

Chap. I. 1 — 9. The prosecution of the Conquest of 


1. Now. came to pass] Literally, "and it came to pass." 
These words are the usual ones in Hebrew for the continuation of a 
narrative. So Leviticus, Numbers, Joshua, Judges 1 and 2 Samuel, 
and 2 Kings begin. Exodus, Deuteronomy (according to the Peshito 
and the Alexandrian Codex of the LXX.), and 1 Kings begin with the 
copulative conjunction only. It is obvious from this commencement, 
that the book of Judges is marked out " as a link in the chain of books 
which in unbroken connection relate the history from the creation of 
the world to the exile of the inhabitants of the southern kingdom'* 
{Berthcau). Thus we may infer that these books were from the first 
intended to form the authorized collection of historical books of the 
Jewish nation. 

after the death of Joshua]. This fixes yet more distinctly the purpose 
of the author of the book of Judges to continue the history from the 
point at which the book of Joshua had left it. It will be observed 
that these words correspond verbally with those that form the com- 
mencement of the book of Joshua, substituting Moses for Joshua and 
omitting that title of respect "the servant of the Lord" (or rather 
"Jehovah" — see note below) which in this special position seemed 
only suitable to the founder (under God) of Jewish institutions, though 
the title "servant of Jehovah" is given to Joshua, naturally enough, at 
the close of the record of his great doings, in Josh. xxiv. 29, and is 
quoted from thence in this book in ch. ii. 8. 

asked the Lord] No doubt "after the judgment of Urim" (see Numb, 
xxvii. 21), as in ch. xx. 18, 23, 27; 1 Sam x. 22, xxii. 10, and many 
other places. The Targum says that the Meinfra, or Word of God, 
was consulted. For the Lord, here and elsewhere read Jehovah, or, as is 
preferable, Jahveh, the name by which Israel's God was distinguished 
from the gods of the nations round about. The name signifies Him of 
Whom existence can be predicated as an attribute — the self-existent, 
and it is identical with the third person of the verb to be. 

44 JUDGES, I. [vv. 2—4. 

go up for us against the Canaanites first, to fight against 

2 them? And the Lord said, Judah shall go up: behold, 

3 I have delivered the land into his hand. And Judah said 
unto Simeon his brother, Come up with me into my lot, that 
we may fight against the Canaanites ; and I likewise will go 

4 with thee into thy lot. So Simeon went with him. And 
Judah went up; and the Lord delivered the Canaanites and 

Who shall go up] This expression must not be pressed, with some 
commentators, to mean "go up" literally into the mountainous country 
which formed the greater part of the inheritance of Judah. It was 
the ordinary word for an aggressive military movement (see Josh, 
viii. 3; Judg. xx. 23), though no doubt the expression originated with 
the fact that fortresses in those early times were usually situated on 

for us] As yet Israel was united as one people, and the tribe or 
tribes who commenced hostilities would be conferring a considerable 
benefit on the rest. 

first] Literally, at the beginning. The LXX. render as the leader, 
and the Vulgate and will be leader of the war. The Chaldee steers a 
middle course between the two renderings. Burt our own translation is 
preferable. Judah only (with Simeon at Judah's special invitation) 
was designated to undertake this expedition. 

2. -And the Lord said] No doubt, as Josephus says (Ant V. 1), 
the officiating priest was Phinehas. Cf. Josh. xxiv. 33, and Judg. 
xx. 28. 

3. And Judah said unto Simeon his brother] This mode of speaking 
of the tribes as though they were individuals is common in Scripture. 
See for instance ch. xi. 27. The sense of unity was soon lost by the 
nation at large, but its existence as regards the tribes was far more 
tenacious. The choice by Judah of Simeon for an ally is explained by 
the fact (see Josh. xix. 1, 9) that the inheritance of the comparatively 
small tribe of Simeon had been taken out of that of Judah. Blunt 
(Undesigned Coincidences, I. 25) supposes the tribe of Simeon to have 
been involved in the transgression of Zimri (Numb. xxv. 14), and that 
this accounts for the smallness of their numbers, which is recorded as 
59,300 in Numb. i. 23, and as 22,200 in Numb. xxvi. 14. The choice 
of Simeon, as here recorded, is itself a coincidence, and could hardly 
have occurred to an inventor. 

lot] A natural expression, so soon after the tribes had had their 
possessions divided to them by lot. See Josh. xv. 1, xvi. 1, xvii. 
1, &c. 

4. the Canaanites] The word, derived from the root signifying to 
bow down, was originally applied to the low-lying strip of coast between 
the mountains and the sea. But as the Canaanites or low-landers pros- 
pered commercially, they became the dominant people of the land, which 
ultimately derived its name from them. To the Gentile world they 
were known as Phoenicians, the inventors of letters^the originators^of 

v. 5-] JUDGES, I. 45 

the Perizzites into their hand: and they slew of them in 
Bezek ten thousand men. And they found Adoni-bezek in 5 
Bezek : and they fought against him, and * they slew the 

commerce, the patrons of the arts. The principal feature which struck 
the Jews was their gross licentiousness, which was hardly a crime in 
the eyes of heathen nations. For these abominations (Levit. xviii. 24 — 
28; Deut. ix. 4) they were doomed to destruction. 

the Pei'izzites] The best authorities seem to have come to the con- 
clusion that the inhabitants of Palestine were a mixed race, and that — 
the Hittites excepted, see note on v. 26 — as a rule they obtained their 
names not from ethnological considerations, but from their geographical 
position or habits of life. Thus the Hivites were the dwellers in villages 
(Havvoth, see Havoth-jair, Numb, xxxii. 41, Deut. iii. 12, Josh. xiii. 30), 
engaged in pasture, while the Perizzites were the dwellers in the open 
country (Perazim or Perazoth, see Deut. iii. 5; 1 Sam. vi. 18; Esther 
ix. 19), and were occupied in cultivating the land. See articles on 
Hivite and Perizzite in Smith's Dictionary of the Bible. See also last 
note and that on v. 34. Also ch. v. 7, 11. 

and they slew of them] Literally, smote them, ten thousand men. 
Most likely the extermination of their enemies is implied in the 
Hebrew text. Our version, which follows the Vulgate here, gives a 
different impression. The LXX. renders as above. 

Bezek] This place has not been identified. Keil would make it 
one of the two cities mentioned in the Ononiasticon of Eusebius and 
Jerome, situate seven hours north of Shechem. But it is most un- 
likely that Judah and Simeon carried out operations so far from their 
own border. Mr Conder, in his Bible Handbook, would identify it 
with Bezkah, near Lydda. This is scarcely more probable. Canon 
Tristram, in his Bible Places, more wisely leaves it unnoticed. Cassel 
conjectures with some probability that it was not a town, but a 
district ; but he assigns no convincing reasons for placing it near 
the Dead Sea. With the aid of 1 Sam. xi. 8, and vv. 3 and 8 we 
may, however, be able to obtain a clearer idea of its whereabouts. 
It must have been near Gibeah of Saul (1 Sam. xi. 4), and Gibeah of 
Saul (see note on chap. xix. 12) was not far from Jerusalem in a 
north-easterly direction. It must have been to the north of Judah, for 
had it been in the south Judah would have proposed to go into 
Simeon's lot, and not have asked the assistance of Simeon to go up into 
theirs. Lastly, it was not far from Jerusalem, for Adoni-bezek fled 
there, and the reduction of Jerusalem was one of the final results of the 

5. Adoni-bezek] With this name compare Adoni-zedek in Josh. x. 1. 
Its meaning, according to Rosenmuller, is simply lord of Bezek, as Adoni- 
zedek is lord and Melchizedek king of righteousness. Nothing more is 
known of this king beyond his confession of cruelty below, which shews 
him to have been a powerful monarch. The way in which he is men- 
tioned confirms this. And yet there is nothing in the book of Joshua 

46 JUDGES, I. [w. 6, 7. 

6 Canaanites and the Perizzites. But Adoni-bezek fled ; and 
they pursued after him, and caught him, and cut off his 

7 thumbs and his great toes. And Adoni-bezek said, Three- 
score and ten kings, having their thumbs and their great 
toes cut off, gathered their meat under my table: as I have 
done, so God hath requited me. And they brought him 

to hint at his existence, nor do we know for certain where the seat of 
his power was. But we may gather from v. 7 that his head-quarters 
were at Jerusalem. It is possible that he may have been the son of 
Adoni-zedek, who appears (Josh. x. 1) to have been the chief monarch 
in these parts, and possibly, like many other Eastern monarchs, he had 
been associated with his father in the regal dignity. This seems the 
more probable, since no king, after the invasion by Joshua, was in a 
position to inflict the cruelties which are detailed below. The idea that 
he was king of Jerusalem derives additional probability from the fact that 
among the cities taken by Joshua Jerusalem is not numbered, in spite 
of Adoni-zedek having been the leader of the confederation annihilated 
at Beth-horon. After the overthrow and death of Adoni-zedek, his 
successor would find a safe retreat in a mountain fastness like Jerusalem. 
See Josh. x. 23 — 26, xv. 63. 

slew] Literally smote, as above. 

6. caught him] Or rather laid hold on him, took him, as we say, 
that is, took him prisoner. 

cut off his thumbs and his great toes] It does not appear that the 
Israelites were accustomed thus to mutilate their foes. It was no doubt 
done in this case as an act of retribution on the cruel monarch who had 
inflicted this barbarous punishment on so many others. This cruel 
punishment was common among heathen nations. The Athenians 
had the thumbs of the defeated Aeginetans cut off that they might 
not wield the spear, though they handled the oar. Curtius (I)e rebus 
gestis Alex, v. 17) tells us how the Persians cut off the hands, feet, 
and ears, of four thousand Greek captives and thus kept them for a 
perpetual laughing-stock. 

7. Threescore and ten kings'] Palestine appears to have been divided 
into a host of petty states, for every city Joshua took appears to have 
had its king (see also Josh, xii.), nor do we find any city, save Gibeon 
and the Philistine cities, which was not under regal government, though 
Josh. xi. 3 seems to imply that some were so. Many of these kings 
were no doubt vassals of the more powerful monarchs. 

gathered their meat under ??iy table] More literally, gleaned under 
my table. The word signifies to collect one by one, or slowly, various 
objects, as stones, flowers, ears of corn when gleaning (Ruth ii. 8, &c). 
It here implies the difficulty with which these poor mutilated objects 
picked up the food their haughty master flung to them on the ground. 
Athenaeus [Deipno sophist, iv. 152) tells us how the king of the Parthians 
used so to fling food to a courtier, who had to catch it like a dog. Some 
authorities, as Grotius reminds us, have similarly described the treatment 

vv. 8, 9] JUDGES, I. 47 

to Jerusalem, and there he died. Now the children of 8 
Judah had fought against Jerusalem, and had taken it, and 
smitten it with the edge of the sword, and set the city on 

And afterward the children of Judah went down to fight 9 
against the Canaanites, that dwelt in the mountain, and in 
the south, and in the valley. 

of the Ottoman Sultan Bajazet by Tamerlane. The story of the iron 
cage appears to be authentic, though Tamerlane's cruelty has possibly 
been exaggerated. See Gibbon, Decline a?td Fall, chap. 65. 

8. Now the children of Judah had fought] The natural translation 
is and the children of Judah fought against Jerusalem, i. e. after the 
capture of Adoni-bezek. Our translators have supposed that the 
transactions related in this and the following verses preceded the ex- 
pedition related above. It is often difficult to trace the sequence of 
events in Hebrew from the lack of a pluperfect tense in that language. 
It seems probable, from a comparison of this verse with Josh. xv. 
63 and 2 Sam. v. 6, 7, that though Judah and Simeon took Jerusalem 
and set the city on fire, the Jebusites retired into a citadel from which 
their enemies failed to dislodge them, and ultimately re-occupied the 
city. See note on v. 10, 21. Also ch. xix. 10. 

with the edge of the sword] Literally, at the mouth of the sword, no 
doubt in reference to the devouring nature of war. 

set the city on fire] This expression, literally to send into the fire, 
occurs for the first time here, and is therefore a sign of the independent 
authorship of this book. See also ch. xx. 48. 

9. mountain] ttjv opeivrju, LXX., the very expression used by St 
Luke and translated "the hill country of Judaea." A large part of the 
territory of Judah was mountainous, and the hills round Hebron rose to 
a height of about 3000 feet. Dean Stanley (Sinai and Palestine, p. 161) 
describes the physical features of the country, "the rounded hills, the 
broad valleys, the scanty vegetation, the wells in every valley, the 
vestiges of terraces, whether for corn or wine," as well as the ruins on 
the hill-tops, testifying to the former popuiousness of the territory. 

the south] Two words are used in Hebrew to designate the south, 
the one signifying actual direction, the other having reference to the 
physical characteristics of the land. The latter (Negeb) is used here. 
The term signifies dryness or drought, and this (see Achsah's speech in 
v. 15) was the actual nature of the country. "For a few weeks late in 
the spring-time a smiling aspect is thrown over the broad downs, when 
the ground is reddened by the anemone in contrast with the soft white 
of the daisy and the deep yellow of the tulip and marigold. But this 
flush of beauty soon passes, and the permanent aspect of the country is 
not wild indeed, nor hideous, or frightfully desolate, but, as we may 
say, austerely plain ; a tame, unpleasing aspect, not causing absolute 
discomfort while one is in it, but left without one lingering reminiscence 

48 JUDGES, I. [v. 10. 

10 — 15. CaleVs exploits and their results. 

And Judah went against the Canaanites that dwelt in 
Hebron: (now the name of Hebron before was Kirjath- 
arba:) and they slew Sheshai, and Ahiman, and Talmai. 

of anything lovely, awful, or sublime." G. S. Drew, Scripture Lands, 
p. 6. 

the valley] low country, margin. The word in the original is 
Shephelah, and it is applied to the tract of undulating country that ex- 
tended from the mountains to the coast. Its fertility made it a great con- 
trast to the Negeb. Cf. for this word Deut. i. 7 ; Josh. x. 40, xii. 8. 
It is variously translated in the A.V. 

10—15. Caleb's exploits and their results. 

10. And Judah went] This expedition is related in Josh. xiv. 
13 — 15, xv. 13 — 19. This passage is clearly a quotation from the book 
of Joshua. The verbal divergences are infinitesimal, while remarkable 
expressions, which occur nowhere else, are copied. Josephus, A?ttiq. 
v. 1, 2, regards this expedition as occurring after Joshua's death. But 
a consideration of Caleb's age (see Josh. xiv. 10), makes it almost 
certain that for "went" we should translate had. gone, and regard this 
passage as referring to an earlier campaign. See note on v, 8. 

Hebron] This city, standing at a height of 2,700 feet above the 
Mediterranean, a mountain fastness inhabited by tribes of such gigantic 
height and strength as to be pre-eminent even among the giant tribes of 
Canaan (Numb. xiii. 28, 33 ; Deut. ix. 2), might well call for the 
bravest and best of the Israelites to attempt its conquest. It was 
founded seven years before Zoan in Egypt (Numb. xiii. 22). When 
we first hear of it, Mamre the Amorite dwelt there (Gen. xiii. 18, xiv. 
13). Yet the children of Heth, or Hittites, had possession of it a little 
later (Gen. xxiii.), while here it is in the hands of the Canaanites. As 
several of the various tribes of Palestine are mentioned in this chapter 
(vv. 4, 33, 34 — 36), we are precluded from supposing that the names are 
used loosely as synonyms. The place was a sacred one already to the 
Israelites, for not only had Abraham pitched his tent there, but he and 
Sarah were buried there. See beside the passages already quoted, 
Gen. xxv. 9, 10. It was celebrated in the after history of Israel as the 
place where David reigned before the capture of Jerusalem. Huge 
blocks of stone still remain to attest the strength of the "cities walled 
up to heaven" which the Israelites were enabled to capture, while the 
site of Abraham's sepulchre has been preserved to us by a chain of 
tradition the authenticity of which it is impossible to doubt. It was 
visited by the Prince of Wales and his suite in 1862. See Stanley, 
Sermons in the East, p. 141 sqq. It is now called the Haram, or 
enclosure, and is surrounded by a mosque. 

Kirjath-arba] Or, the city of Arba. It might also mean the city 
of four, and the Rabbinical writers explain this by a tradition that the 

vv. ii, 12.] JUDGES, I. 49 

And from thence he went against the inhabitants of« 
Debir: and the name of Debir before was Kirjath-sepher. 
And Caleb said, He that smiteth Kirjath-sepher, and taketh 12 

four patriarchs Adam, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and their wives 
(see Gen. xxiii. 19, xxv. 9, xxxv. 29, xlix. 30, 31) were buried there. 
Also they say that four men of mark, Abraham, Aner, Eshcol, and 
Mamre, dwelt there. But Arba is explained in Josh. xiv. 15 to be "a 
great man among the Anakims," or as a more literal translation woul4 
put it, "the greatest man among the Anakim was he." Again in 
Josh. xv. 13 we are told that he was the father of Anak. For the 
curious mistranslation of the word man (Adam) in the Vulgate, 
followed by our Wiclif, in Josh. xiv. 15, see note there. 

Sheshai, Ahiman, and Talmai] Cf. Josh. xv. 14. Josephus 
states that after the siege of Hebron many bodies of men of immense 
stature were found among the slain, and that the bones of some of them 
had been preserved until his day. 

11. Debir] Also called Kirjath-sepher (the city of the book) and 
Kirjath-sannah (the city of the palm, or the city of the doctrine, cf. the 
word Sunnites among the Mohammedans) Josh. xv. 49. Debir has 
recently, and with great probability, been identified by Lieutenant Conder 
with Dhaheriyeh {Quarterly Paper of Palestine Exploration Fund, Jan. 
1875). Other travellers, e.g. Ritter, had previously described it as a 
place of importance; and Wilson {Lands of the Bible, I. 351) remarks 
on the fact that the sites of five out of the ten cities mentioned in con- 
junction with Debir in Josh. xv. are found in the immediate neighbour- 
hood. Other reasons for the identification are (1) that the main roads 
of the district appear to have met here, (2) that there are traces of 
ancient dwellings, and (3) that though in an arid district, there are 
springs of water (see v. 15) at no great distance. To which we may add 
(4) that the name (properly D'vir) has not been altogether lost in the 
modern name. 

Kirjath-sepher] See last note. The origin of this name, as of Kirjath- 
sannah, has been much disputed. But since recent discoveries have 
proved the Hittites, who inhabited some portion of Palestine, and who 
had (see note on last verse) evidently settled in this immediate neighbour- 
hood, to have been an intelligent, cultivated, and powerful nation, 
there seems less reason than had previously been supposed for rejecting 
the theory that this town had been the headquarters of the culture 
of Palestine. The word D'vir (oracle— see 1 Kings vi. 5, 19 — 22) may 
have some connection with the same idea. And Furst (Lex. s. v.) says 
that d'vir in Phoenician signifies a book. 

12. And Caleb said] The writer now leaves his general narrative 
and begins to quote the very words of Josh. xv. He evidently has had 
it in his mind before, but what the book of Joshua has distinctly 
assigned to Caleb is here described more generally as the work of the 
tribe to which he belonged. But this introduction of Caleb, without 
explanation, proves that the writer was aware of the fact that he con- 


50 JUDGES, I. [vv. 13—15. 

?3 it, to him will I give Achsah my daughter to wife. And 
Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother, took it: 

J 4 and he gave him Achsah his daughter to wife. And it came 
to pass, when she came to htm, that she moved him to ask 
of her father a field : and she lighted from off her ass ; and 

15 Caleb said unto her, What wilt thou ? And she said unto 

ducted the expedition against Hebron. Caleb's origin is difficult to 
trace. He is called the Kenezite, or rather Ke?iizzite, in Josh. xiv. 6, 14, 
from which some have inferred that he was of Gentile origin (see the 
Bishop of Bath and Wells' article in the Dictionary of the Bible, and cf. 
Gen. xv. 19). It is difficult to unravel the perplexed genealogy of 
1 Chron. ii., iv. But we are told (Exod. xii. 38) that "a mixed multi- 
tude" went up with the Israelites out of Egypt. Among them 
Kenites {v. 16 and ch. iv. 11) were certainly found, and possibly 
some of the Kenizzites, who were of kindred race, and the genealogy 
in 1 Chron. ii. and iv. is connected both with Kenites and Kenizzites. 
See 1 Chron. ii. 55, and iv. 13, 15. Then the appearance of all the 
tribe of Judah to plead the cause of Joshua's old comrade would 
suggest that some reason must have existed for their presence in sup- 
port of his claim, as well as what is said in Josh. xiv. 14, which 
would seem to imply that this conduct was something especially 
meritorious on Caleb's part. See also the article on Caleb in Dean 
Plumptre's Biblical Studies. Also Josh. xv. 13. 

to him will I give Achsah my daughter] Cf. 1 Sam. xvii. 25; 1 
Chron. xi. 6. 

13. Othniel the son of Kenaz] Seech, iii. 9 — n; also Josh. xv. 17. 
The Hebrew does not enable us to decide whether Othniel or Kenaz 
were Caleb's brother. Ewald is inclined to the former view {History of 
Israel, I- 251, cf. II. 286, note). As Caleb was the son of Jephunneh, 
the latter appears probable, but it is of course possible that the term son 
of Kenaz is equivalent to Kenizzite in Josh. xiv. 6, 14. In the genealogy 
of 1 Chron. ii., iv., the names Caleb and Kenaz appear to have been 
family names. For the construction, see Numb. x. 29; 2 Sam. xiii. 3, 
32, &c. The family of Othniel was of importance in Israel down to the 
time of David. See 1 Chron. xxvii. 15, where his family and that of 
the Zarhites {vv. 11, 13) are mentioned, and cf. Josh. vii. 17. 

14. a field] So it is in Josh. xv. 18. Here it is the field, i.e. the 
particular portion of land she ultimately obtained. 

lighted] The word only occurs here and in the original passage in 
Josh. xv. and in ch. iv. 21 of the nail sinking (or crashing) down into 
Sisera's temples. It is impossible to say whether gradual or rapid 
motion is meant. 

What wilt thou] Or, what is the matter with thee. Literally, 
what to thee. Achsah's conduct evidently caused surprise to Caleb. 
Most likely she suddenly flung herself from the ass and sunk on her 
knees in an imploring attitude. 

vv. 15, 16.] JUDGES, I. 51 

him, Give me a blessing: for thou hast given me a south 
land ; give me also springs of water. And Caleb gave her 
the upper springs and the nether springs. 

16. The movements of the Kenites. 

And the children of the Kenite, Moses* father in law, ,6 
went up out of the city of palm trees with the children 
of Judah into the wilderness of Judah, which lieth in the 

15. a blessing] See Gen. xxxiii. n; 1 Sam. xxv. 27; 2 Kings 
v. 15. 

a south land] Literally, a land of the dry region (Negeb, see note on 
v. 9). 

the upper springs and the nether springs] Six miles and a half north 
of Dhahariyeh are found fourteen springs or pools on different levels, no 
doubt the upper and lower pools mentioned here. See Lieut. Conder's 
statement already quoted (note on v, 11). 

18. The movements of the Kenites. 

16. the Kenite] Cf. Gen. xv. 19; Numb. xxiv. 21; and see ch. 
iv. n; 1 Sam. xv. 6, xxvii. 10, xxx. 29; 1 Chron. ii. 55. 

Moses* father in law] Rather, brother in law. See note on ch. iv. 
11. Cf. Numb. x. 29 — 32, where Hobab, Jethro's son, is called a 
Midianite, in agreement with the narrative in Exod. ii., iii. We learn 
from this passage that Hobab responded to Moses' appeal. 

the city of pah?i trees] Jericho — see ch. iii. 13; Deut. xxxiv. 3; 
2 Chron. xxviii. 15. No trace of the palm-grove now remains, but it 
has only gradually disappeared. It is said that its last vestiges might 
have been seen as late as the year 1838. Relics of it are sometimes 
washed up from the Dead Sea even now. The name Jericho (city of 
fragrance) was no doubt derived from its situation in the midst of the 

vAlderness of Judah] Where John the Baptist preached (Matt. iii. 1). 
"It is a plateau of white chalk, 2000 feet lower than the watershed, 
and terminated on the east by cliffs which rise vertically from the Dead 
Sea shore to a height of about 2000 feet. The scenery is barren, and 
wild beyond all description. The chalky ridges are scored by innu- 
merable torrents, and their narrow crests are separated by broad flat 
valleys. Peaks and knolls of fantastic forms rise suddenly from the 
swelling downs, and magnificent precipices of ruddy limestone stand 
up like fortress walls above the sea. Not a tree nor a spring is visible 
in the waste, and only the desert partridge and the ibex are found 
ranging the solitude." Conder, Handbook to the Bible, pp. 213, 214. 
It lay between the Hebron range of mountains and the Dead Sea. 


52 JUDGES, I. [vv. 17, 18. 

south of Arad; and they went and dwelt among the 

17 — 2i. Further prosecution of the expedition of Judah and 

17 And Judah went with Simeon his brother, and they slew 
the Canaanites that inhabited Zephath, and utterly destroyed 

18 it: and the name of the city was called Hormah. Also Judah 
took Gaza with the coast thereof, and Askelon with the 

Arad] See Josh. xii. 14. Now Tell 'Arad, about twenty miles 
south of Hebron. " A white crowned hill, with traces of ruins, a day's 
journey west of the south end of the Dead Sea." Tristram, Bible 
Places, p. 11. 

17 — 21. Further prosecution of the expedition of Judah 
and Simeon. 

17. ZephaiK\ Supposed by most explorers to have retained its 
ancient name, and to be the present Sebaita in the midst of the Negeb. 
Robinson, however {Biblical Researches, ill. 150), prefers Es-Sufah. 
Called Hormah first, because of the terrible defeat inflicted on the 
Israelites by the Amalekites (Numb. xiv. 45), and afterward because 
of the destruction of the Canaanites related in this passage and in 
Numb. xxi. 3. Hormah (see margin of Numb. xxi. 3) signifies utter 
destruction. See next note. Also Josh. xii. 14, xix. 4; 1 Sam. xxx. 30 ; 
2 Chron. xiv. 10. The name Hormah only is used by Moses. Only 
here and in 2 Chron. xiv. 10, is the older name used. 

utterly destroyed it] The word cherem, used of the destruction of 
Jericho and the other Canaanitish cities, originally means to shut up 
(whence our word Harem). Hence in the Hiphil or causative voice it 
comes to mean cause to shut up, thence to consecrate, and thence to devote 
to utter destruction, to place under a ban. From this word Hormah (see 
last note) is derived. 

18. Gaza] The scene of one of Samson's greatest exploits. See 
ch. xvi. 3. One of the five lordships of the Philistines, Josh. xiii. 3 ; 
1 Sam. vi. 17, 18. It had apparently not been captured in Joshua's 
time, see Josh. x. 41, xi. 22. As it appears to have been again in the 
hands of the Philistines in the time of Samson and Samuel (see passages 
just cited and ch. iii. 3), the Israelites could not have held it long. 
The LXX., however, which is followed by Josephus, inserts a "not" 
here, and continues it throughout the verse. This reading agrees better 
with what follows. Josh. xi. 22 seems to bear out this reading. See 
also ch. iii. 3. Gaza is sometimes called Azzah in Scripture (Deut. ii. 23 ; 
1 Kings iv. 14; Jer. xxv. 20). It is now called Ghazzeh. 

with the coast thereof] Literally, and her boi'der. The word coast 
(French cdte) from the Latin costa, a rib or side, had the same sense of 

vv. 19, 20.] JUDGES, I. 53 

coast thereof, and Ekron with the coast thereof. And the 19 
Lord was with Judah ; and he drave out the inhabitants of 
the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of 
the valley, because they had chariots of iron. And they 20 
gave Hebron unto Caleb, as Moses said: and he expelled 

side as the French word now has. The Hebrew word is translated 
indifferently by coast and border in our version. 

Askelori\ More properly Ashkelon, known later as Ascalon, now 
Askalan. One of the five Philistine lordships (see passages cited above). 
It lay on the Philistine coast, about midway between Gaza and Ashdod. 
It is mentioned in later times (see Jer. xxv. 20, xlvii. 5, 7). It was 
famous in the history of the Crusades as having been besieged and 
taken by Richard I. "Within the walls and towers now standing 
Richard held his court." Stanley, Sinai and Palestine, p. 257. 

Ekron] This was also one of the five lordships of the Philistines. 
It soon returned under the hands of the Philistines. See 1 Sam. v. 10, 
vi. 17. It lay near what ultimately became the border of Judah, though 
it probably, like Gath, fell under Israelite dominion in the reigns of 
David and his immediate successors (1 Chron. xviii. 1). 

19. but could not drive~\ Judah is the nominative to the verb here, 
not, as some objectors to the inspiration of Scripture have supposed, 
Jehovah. The successes of Judah are ascribed to Him who gave them. 
But his failures are his own. Had he had faith enough, no chariots 
of iron would have enabled the inhabitants of the valley to resist him. 
Cf. Josh. xi. 4—6, xvii. 16, 18. It is of course possible (see note on 
last verse) that Judah may have taken the cities of the 'Emek by a 
sudden assault, but have been unable to hold them. 

valley] Here ''Emek, generally a wide valley enclosed by hills, 
though sometimes it is used in a sense equivalent to plain. It seems as 
though it is here intended to signify the Shephelah (see v. 9). 

chariots of iron~\ These seem to have caused much dread to the 
Israelites. They seem even to have appalled the stout heart of Joshua 
(Josh. xi. 6). What these chariots were is uncertain. Scythe-chariots 
("chaarys full of weepnes in manner of sithis," Wiclif) do not appear 
to have been known to the Egyptians, and Xenophon in his Cyropaedia 
says that Cyrus introduced them from the Scythians. It is therefore 
possible that they were ordinary war-chariots such as we find described 
in the Iliad. See, for further information, Dr Cassel's note in Langis 
Covimentary, translated in Clark's Theological Library. Also the 
Article "Chariot" in the Dictionary of the Bible. The LXX. renders 
here most curiously otl 'P?7xd/3 dieareiXaro avrots, leaving the word 
" chariots" untranslated, no doubt from the difficulty mentioned above. 

20. as Moses said] See Numb. xiv. 24 ; Josh. xiv. 9. Caleb, in 
the latter passage, mentions circumstances which Moses has not re- 
corded. The only satisfactory explanation of his words seems to be 
that the spies separated, and that Hebron was the place visited by 
Caleb. The text follows the narrative in Joshua. 

54 JUDGES, I. [vv. 21—26. 

21 thence the three sons of Anak. And the children of Ben- 
jamin did not drive out the Jebusites that inhabited Jerusa- 
lem; but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Benjamin 
in Jerusalem unto this day. 

22 — 26. Capture of Bethel. 

22 And the house of Joseph, they also went up against 

23 Beth-el : and the Lord was with them. And the house of 
Joseph sent to descry Beth-el. (Now the name of the city 

24 before was Luz.) And the spies saw a man come forth out 
of the city, and they said unto him, Shew us, we pray thee, 
the entrance into the city, and we will shew thee mercy. 

25 And when he shewed them the entrance into the city, they 
smote the city with the edge of the sword; but they let 

26 go the man and all his family. And the man went into the 
land of the Hittites, and built a city, and called the name 
thereof Luz: which is the name thereof unto this day. 

the three sons of Anak] Their names are given in v. 10. 

21. did not drive out the Jebusites] See v. 8. The only possible 
solution of the difficulty appears to be that suggested above, v. 8. The 
tribes of Judah and Simeon assaulted the city and set it on fire, but left 
the garrison to be dislodged from the citadel by the Benjamites, which 
they failed to do. In fact it was never thoroughly done. See 2 Sam. 
xxiv. 16 ; 1 Kings ix. 20 ; Ezra ix. 1. 

unto this day] We cannot absolutely conclude that the book of 
Judges was written before the time of David from this verse. See last 

22 — 26. Capture of Bethel. 

22. Beth-el] Now Beitin. This town lies at the head of the ravine 
running up among the mountains from Jericho to Ai. It was on the 
borders of Ephraim and Benjamin. Here Abraham encamped " having 
Beth-el on the west and Ai on the east" (Gen. xii. 8). Here was 
Jacob's vision (Gen. xxviii. 19), whence its name, which, as we are here 
told, had formerly been Luz (Gen. xxxv. 6, xlviii. 3). It is not re- 
corded as having been taken when Ai fell (Josh. viii. 28), though its 
inhabitants were engaged in the battle (Josh. viii. 17). Probably 
only a few of its men of war were left, and Joshua hastened on to 
the ceremony at Shechem described in the latter part of the same 

24. spies] Literally, watchers. 

26. the land of the Hittites] It is now discovered that the Hittites 
were a mighty nation ("the contemporary Egyptian inscriptions desig- 
nate them as 'the great people,"' Brugsch, Hist. Egypt, II. 2), who 

v.. 27.] JUDGES, I. 55 

27 — 36. The inaction of the remaining tribes. 

Neither did Manasseh drive out the inhabitants of Beth- 27 

shean and her towns, nor Taanach and her towns, nor the 

inhabitants of Dor and her towns, nor the inhabitants of 

Ibleam and her towns, nor the inhabitants of Megiddo and 

were for a long period the successful rivals of the Egyptian and Assyrian 
empires. The seat of their power was Carchemish, and they attained 
to a considerable degree of cultivation, as the sculptures and general 
remains recently discovered incontestibly prove. An interesting dis- 
covery has been made during the present year (1881). Lieut. Conder 
has just identified the sacred city of the Hittites. It has been found 
on the banks of a lake close by the river Orontes, just as it is de- 
picted on the Karnak temple erected to commemorate its capture by 
Rameses II. The sculptor "has chiselled," says Brugsch (Hist. Egypt, 
II. 46), "in deep work on the stone, with a bold execution of the several 
parts, the procession of the warriors, the battle before Kadesh, the 
storming of the fortress, the overthrow of the enemy, and the camp 
life of the Egyptians." 

27 — 36. The inaction of the remaining tribes. 

27. Beth-shean] Later Scythopolis, now Beisan. This city stood 
in a noble situation on a bold bluff of limestone, surrounded by deep 
and almost inaccessible ravines — "a sort of Gibraltar on a small scale." 
See a vivid description of the prospect from the ruined site in Tristram, 
Land of Israel, pp. 501, 502. It was properly within the boundaries of 
Issachar, but had been assigned to Manasseh on account of the small- 
ness of its own territory (Tosh. xvii. n). 

and her towns] Literally, daughters, i. e. a group of smaller towns 
at no great distance from the capital of the district. See Josh, ix, 17, 
where the daughter cities seem to have been within a radius of about 
five miles. 

Taanach] Sometimes Tanach, now Ttfnak or Td'anik. It is 
described by Bartlett (Egypt and Palestine, 476), as '* the hill-spur of 
Ta'annuk." Generally coupled with Megiddo. These were also 
towns assigned to Manasseh out. of Issachar and Asher. See Josh. xii. 
21, xvii. 11; I Kings iv. 12. Taanach became a Levitical city, Josh. 
xxi. 25. 

Dor] See Josh. xi. 2, xvii. n. Now Dandora or Tantura. This 
city was once a strong place, and the seat of the trade in Phoenician 
dye, which was obtained from one or two species of shell-fish (the 
murex truncuhis and the helix ianthina) and was famous in early times, 
as innumerable passages from ancient authors shew. Pliny gives a 
description of the fish from whence it was obtained in his Natural 
History, 9, 36. It stands "on a low mound near the sea" (Tristram, 
Land of Israel, p. 105), spoken of as the Napheth Dor (heights of Dor) 
in Josh. xi. 2. 

Ibleam] See 2 Kings ix. 27. 

56 JUDGES, I. [vv. 28— 30. 

her towns: but the Canaanites would dwell in that land. 

28 And it came to pass, when Israel was strong, that they put 
the Canaanites to tribute, and did not utterly drive them 

29 Neither did Ephraim drive out the Canaanites that dwelt 
in Gezer; but the Canaanites dwelt in Gezer among them. 

30 Neither did Zebulun drive out the inhabitants of Kitron, nor 
the inhabitants of Nahalol; but the Canaanites dwelt among 

Megiddd\ This has generally been identified with Lejjim (the Latin 
Legio), but as a place called Mejedda has been found at the foot of 
Gilboa, and as the majority of places in Palestine retain their ancient 
names, the latter place is now thought to be the true site. Megiddo is 
a remarkable place in some respects. Beside being the place where 
Josiah met his death, it is mentioned under the name of Magedi in the 
lists of towns captured by Thothmes III., supposed by Brugsch and 
others to have been long anterior to Moses. It is mentioned also in a 
book of travels of the reign of Rameses II, also, according to high 
authority, before the Exodus. See Records of the Past, 11. 106. And 
the writer of the book of the Revelation selects it, under the name of 
Armageddon (Har or Mount Megiddo) as the scene of the last great 
conflict in the world's history (Rev. xvi. 14, 16). 

would dwell] i. e. willed to dwell. Cf. German wollen. Not began, 
as the Septuagint translates (the Chaldee has "left them to dwell"), 
for this, though grammatically admissible, would be historically false. 
"Whenever this word occurs, it seems necessary to take it as expressing 
acquiescence in offered conditions" Dr Cassel in loc. See Exod. ii. 21; 
v. 35 of this chapter, and ch. xvii. 11, where our version has "was 
content," i.e. with an offer. Also ch. xix. 6. 

28. they put the Canaanites to tribute] See the similar passage in 
Josh. xvii. 13. This was what they were strictly forbidden to do (Exod. 
xxiii. 31 — 33; Deut. vii. 1 — 6, &c.) and the cause of all their mis- 

29. Gezer] See Josh. x. 33. It became a Levitical city (Josh. xxi. 
21 ; 1 Chron. vi. 67), but the Canaanites were allowed to dwell with 
the Levites (see Josh. xvi. 10). One of the most interesting results of 
the researches of the Palestine Exploration Fund has been the discovery 
at Tell-el-Jezer of the boundary stone of the city, with inscriptions in 
Greek and Hebrew. The fact of Greek being found on it shews that 
the boundary was placed there at a period subsequent to the Babylonian 
captivity. The city was captured by the king of Egypt (we are told — 

1 Kings ix. 16 — that it was still inhabited by the Canaanites) and was 
restored to Solomon when he espoused Pharaoh's daughter. It was 
an important stronghold in the days of the Maccabees (1 Mace. ix. 52 ; 

2 Mace. x. 32). It is there called Gazara. 

30. Kitron, Nahalol] The former, perhaps, the same as Kattath 
and the latter certainly the same as Nahallal in Josh. xix. 15. See also 

w. 3I—33-] JUDGES, I. 57 

them, and became tributaries. Neither did Asher drive out 3* 
the inhabitants of Accho, nor the inhabitants of Zidon, nor 
of Ahlab, nor of Achzib, nor of Helbah, nor of Aphik, nor of 
Rehob : but the Asherites dwelt among the Canaanites, the 32 
inhabitants of the land: for they did not drive them out. 
Neither did Naphtali drive out the inhabitants of Beth- 33 
shemesh, nor the inhabitants of Beth-anath; but he dwelt 

Josh. xxi. 35, whence we learn that Nahalol was a Levitical city. The 
places have not been identified. The Jerusalem Talmud reads Tzippori 
for Kitron, and this has been identified with Seffurieh. On what au- 
thority this reading is based does not appear. The LXX. has Kerpcbu. 
31. Accho] Now St Jean d'Acre, a town more famous in modern 
than in ancient history. It is situated about ten miles north of Mount 
Carmel, and was known as Ptolemais in Roman times, having been 
rebuilt by one of the Ptolemies during their supremacy in Palestine 
(1 Mace. v. 15, 22, x. 1, &c. See also Acts xxi. 7). It was taken by 
Baldwin in the first crusade, A. D. 1104, retaken by Saladin 1187. 
Richard I. and his allies retook it four years later, and about forty 
years later still it became the seat of the kingdom of Jerusalem. 
Edward I. defended it with success, but it finally fell into the hands of 
the infidels in 1291, when 60,000 Christians were either killed or sold 
for slaves, and the great Christian order of Knights Templar was almost 
entirely destroyed. The attack on Acre by Napoleon in 1799, repulsed 
by Sir Sidney Smith with the aid of a few English sailors, brings its 
interest for Englishmen down to a comparatively recent period. 

Zidon] Called Great Zidon in Josh. xi. 8. The city, now called 
Saida, retains but little of the commercial importance of the renowned 
Phoenician city, in Homer's time the home of the arts, the centre of 
Phoenician civilization. The remains of various ages are to be seen 
there, from the massive stone-work of the ancient Phoenicians to the 
remains of Roman temples and Mohammedan mosques. See Kenrick, 
Phoenicia, p. 17 sqq. ; Robinson, Biblical Researches, ill. 415 ; Tristram, 
Land of Israel, p« 36 sqq., and almost any work of travel in Palestine. 

Ahlab] Afterwards Giscala, now el-Jish, a considerable distance 
from the sea, and N.W. of the Sea of Galilee. 

Achzib] The Greek Ecdippa, now ez-Zib, about 10 miles north of 

Aphik] Most probably the Aphek of Josh. xiii. 4, xix. 30. If so, it 
was the place where the Syrian Aphrodite was worshipped, and where 
Thammuz, the Syrian Adonis, was yearly lamented. See Ezek. viii. 14. 
The ruins of the temple, so famed for its licentious worship, may still 
be seen at Afka, on the north-west slopes of Lebanon. They are 
described by Tristram, Bible Lands, p. 307, as "magnificent ruins," in 
"a spot of strange wildness and beauty," and as lying beyond Beirut 
or Beyrout. See also Kenrick, Phoenicia, pp. 310, 311. 

Rehob] See Josh. xix. 28. Also ch. xviii. 28. 

33. Beth-shemesh] The house of the sun, i. e. the place where the 

58 JUDGES, I. [vv. 34, 35. 

among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land : never- 
theless the inhabitants of Beth-shemesh and of Beth-anath 

34 became tributaries unto them. And the Amorites forced 
the children of Dan into the mountain : for they would not 

35 suffer them to come down to the valley: but the Amorites 
would dwell in mount Heres in Aijalon, and in Shaalbim : 

sun was worshipped. See Josh. xix. 38. Not to be confounded with 
Beth-shemesh, the Levitical city, in the tribe of Judah (see Josh. xv. 10, 
xxi. 16 ; 1 Sam. vi. 13 — 20). 

34. the Amorites] The tribe of Dan occupied a small piece of 
territory taken out of the north-west of the tribe of Judah. It was not 
sufficient for them (see Josh. xix. 47, and Judg. xviii. 1). We find 
from this passage that the Shephelah here was in the hands of the 
Amorites. The word Amorite is supposed by Ewald, Fiirst, and Gese- 
nius to mean highlander. Amir in Is. xvii. 9 means the topmost part 
of a tree. The analogy of the kindred Semitic tongues is in favour of 
this. Thus Amori means in Syriac a hero, and Emir in Arabic a ruler. 
See note on ch. iii. 5. If here they had descended from their mountain 
fastnesses and occupied the Shephelah, we must not forget that Sihon 
occupied a mountain district (Numb. xxi. 24) ; that Maaleh-akrabbim 
(see note below) was in the midst of a mountain district. In Gen. 
xiv. 7 we find them in the mountainous country near En-gedi (cf. 
2 Chron. xx. 2), and the mountains of Hebron are inhabited by Mamre 
the Amorite (Gen. xiii. 18, xiv. 13). 

forced] Literally crushed, arctavii, Vulg. The word is used of 
Balaam's foot, crushed by the ass against the wall, Numb. xxii. 25. 
Hence the insufficiency of the Danite territory to contain them. 

•valley] Emek, in the original. See note on v. 19. 

35. would dwell] See note on v. 27. 

in mount Heres] Mount Heres (Heb. Harcheres, literally sun-moun- 
tain) has been supposed by some to be identical with Ir-shemesh (city 
of the sun) in Josh. xix. 41. They have gone so far as to identify it 
with Beth-shemesh (house of the sun), the present Ain-Shems, But 
this is impossible, as Beth-shemesh was in Judah (Josh. xv. 10), and a 
Levitical city (Josh. xxi. 16). No doubt as these cities were close to the 
borders of Dan and Judah, there may have been a temple of the sun in 
one place and a city in the immediate vicinity, and that the dividing 
line of the two tribes fell between them. That Har-cheres was a moun- 
tain district so named from its proximity to these places appears very 
probable. The LXX. translates "potsherd-mount," cheres signifying 
also a potsherd. See also Is. xix. 18. 

Aijalon, Shaalbim] The former is now Yalo. Called also Ajalon, 
Josh. x. 12. This was also a Levitical city (Josh. xxi. 24). Shaalbim 
meets us in Josh. xix. 42 as Shaalabbin, where, however, the difference is 
almost entirely in the Masoretic pointing, and in the later form of the 
Hebrew plural. The LXX. renders "in which" (i.e. in Mount 
Heres) "are the bears and the foxes." Ajalon most likely means deer- 

vv. 36; i.] JUDGES, I. II. 59 

yet the hand of the house of Joseph prevailed, so that 
they became tributaries. And the coast of the Amorites 36 
was from the going up to Akrabbim, from the rock, and 

Chap. II. 1 — 5. The message of Jehovah a?id the repentance 
of the people. 

And an angel of the Lord came up from Gilgal to 2 
Bochim, and said, I made you to go up out of Egypt, and 

(not bear) ground, and Shaalbim fox-tity, or jackal-c\ty. See note on 
ch. xv. 4. 

the house of Joseph] The most powerful of the tribes, who seem 
here to have come to the assistance of their Danite brethren. 

36. The coast of the Amorites] See note on v. 18. This must have 
been a distinct kingdom from that of Sihon, separated from it by the 
kingdoms of Moab and Ammon. The historian clearly refers here to 
the Amorite border before the invasion. 

goingup to Akrabbini\ Called " Maaleh-acrabbim " in Josh. xv. 3, and 
"the ascent of Akrabbim" in Numb, xxxiv. 4. Akrabbim signifies 
scorpions (Wiclif translates "the stiynge up of Scorpioun"), and the 
ascent in question has been identified by some with the Wady-es- 
Suweirah, where, as De Saulcy tells us, scorpions may still be found 
under almost every pebble (Stanley, Sinai and Palestine, p. 113). But 
nothing is positively established beyond the certainty that it was one of 
the numerous mountain passes at the south-western extremity of the 
Dead Sea. 

the rock~\ Supposed by many expositors to be the city of Petra, 
which also signifies " the rock." Wiclif translates by " Petra," following 
the Vulgate. From Numb, xxxiv. we learn, apparently, that Maaleh- 
akrabbim was at the north end of the desert of Zin, and that the boundary 
of the Israelites ran southward along that desert unto its southern 
extremity at Kadesh. Now Petra, which lies at the foot of Mount Hor, 
is close by the desert of Zin, and there seems therefore no reason to 
doubt that "the rock" is Petra (see 2 Kings xiv. 7, where Selah is 
"the rock"), and that the Amorite border crossed the great depression 
called the Ghor, which extended from the southern extremity of the 
Dead Sea to the eastern branch of the Red Sea. The word "upward," 
which has been held by some commentators to mean "northward," 
must be taken in its literal meaning, "upward" from the Ghor into 
the mountain district. See also Numb, xxxiv. 7, 8. 

Ch. II. 1 — 5. The message of Jehovah and the repentance 


1. an angel] Such is the almost universal use of the word in Holy 
Scripture. Hag. i. 13 is an exception, and some commentators would 

6o JUDGES, II. [v. 2. 

have brought you urito the land which I sware unto your 

fathers ; and I said, I will never break my covenant with 

2 you. And ye shall make no league with the inhabitants of 

incorrectly include Mai. iii. r among the exceptions. See also ch. xi. n, 
where it means messenger. It is used apparently of a priest in Eccl. v. 6, 
as God's mouth-piece, cf. Mal.ii. 7 ; and of Israel (Is. xlii. 19) as one sent to 
proclaim God's truth, but faithless to his trust. The only ground for doubt- 
ing its meaning here is that the messenger is said to have come from 
Gilgal, which is inexplicable in the case of an angel. Keil's explanation 
that the " Captain of the Lord's host" appeared to Joshua at Gilgal (Josh. 
v. 13) is unsatisfactory for two reasons, (1) that he did not appear to 
Joshua at Gilgal but in the immediate vicinity of Jericho, as the Hebrew 
text clearly implies, and (2) that he must in that case have been regarded 
in the sacred writer's mind as having abode there ever since, which 
for many reasons is hardly probable, and especially since the taber- 
nacle was (Josh, xviii. 1) set up at Shiloh. We are thus reduced to a 
balance of probabilities, whether it were more likely that the word 
should have been used here in an unusual sense, or that the angel of the 
Lord could have been said to " come up from Gilgal." The further 
statement of Keil that no prophet ever so thoroughly identifies himself 
with his message as this, that he always begins with "thus saith Jeho- 
vah" (cf. ch. vi. 8), does not seem to be exactly accurate. Isaiah makes 
very little use of this formula, and many of the utterances of the other 
prophets do not commence with it. The Targum regards the messenger 
as a prophet, while Kimchi and Drusius tell us the majority of the 
Rabbis suppose the speaker to have been Phinehas. 

from Gilgal'] or the Gilgal. It appears impossible to doubt that two 
places at least must have been the camping place of the Israelites in 
Joshua's time, the first the modern Jiljulieh, close by Jericho ; the 
second, now Jiljilia, near Bethel. See note on Josh. ix. 6. From the 
double meaning of a circular spot and that of rolling (see Josh. v. 9), it 
came to be the name given to the early Israelite encampments. It is 
impossible to say which of these two places is meant here. 

to Bochim] Of Bochim, which (see margin of v. 5) signifies weepers, 
nothing more is known. 

/ made you to go] The use of the Hebrew imperfect here has been a 
difficulty to commentators. The LXX. and Vulgate solve it by trans- 
lating it by the ordinary past tense. Possibly the tense, which refers 
ordinarily to unfinished action, here implies that God's intention in 
bringing them out of Egypt was to settle them securely in Canaan, and 
that this intention had been frustrated by their disobedience, while the 
use of the perfect in "and I have said" implies that God's word, 
once uttered, was irrevocable. 

and 1 said] Gen. xvii. 7. 

2. no league] See Exod. xxiii. 315 Deut. vii. 2, 3; Josh. ix. 7, 
xxiii. 12. Literally, covenant. 

w. 3—6.] JUDGES, II. 61 

this land ; you shall throw down their altars : but ye have 
not obeyed my voice: why have ye done this? Wherefore I 3 
also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but 
they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be 
a snare unto you. And it came to pass, when the angel of 4 
the Lord spake these words unto all the children of Israel, 
that the people lift up their voice, and wept And they 5 
called the name of that place Bochim: and they sacrificed 
there unto the Lord. 

6 — 10. The Condition of Israel under Joshua, 

And when Joshua had let the people go, the children of 6 
Israel went every man unto his inheritance to possess 

throw down their altars'] A quotation from Exod. xxxiv. 13; Deut. 
vii. 5, xii. 3. Better, to break down. The LXX. adds " break to 
pieces their images," from Exod. xxxiv., and translates the word here 
used by "dig down." See ch. ix. 45. 

why have ye done this ?] Or, what is this that ye have done? 

3. as thorns] These words are added by our translators, with some 
of the Rabbis, from Num. xxxiii. 55 ; Josh, xxiii. 13. But the text does 
not require it, and the LXX. supplies no such word. But the LXX. 
read tzar for tzad here, the Hebrew letters answering to r and d being 
very much alike. In that case the proper translation would be " as 
adversaries" instead of "in your sides." This is also the reading of 
the Chaldee paraphrase and the Vulgate. 

5. they sacrificed there unto the Lord] Some have contended that 
Bochim must have been some particular spot at Shiloh. But though the 
ordinary ritual of the Law could only be performed at Shiloh, it does not 
appear that special sacrifices on special occasions could not be offered 
elsewhere. See 1 Sam. xiii. 13, 14, where Samuel does not appear to 
have blamed Saul for offering a sacrifice at that particular place, but for 
having taken upon him the priest's, ur more strictly, in this case, the 
Prophet-Levite's office. Cf. also ch. xi. 11, note. 

6 — 10. The Condition of Israel under Joshua. 

6. And when Joshua had let] The absence of a pluperfect tense in 
Hebrew has led to some discussion whether this verse is to be regarded 
as referring to events before or after those recorded in the last five 
verses. But the statement of v. 10 disposes of the difficulty, and proves 
that what has been stated above took place some time after Joshua's 
death. This section is clearly a quotation from the book of Joshua, 
and is intended (1) to connect the following history with that in the 
book of Joshua, and (2) to mark the contrast between Israel in his days, 
and Israel in after years. 

62 JUDGES, II. [vv. 7— ii. 

7 the land. And the people served the Lord all the days 
of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived 
Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the Lord, that 

8 he did for Israel. And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant 

9 of the Lord, died, being an hundred and ten years old. And 
they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnath- 
heres, in the mount of Ephraim, on the north side of the 
hill Gaash. 

io And also all that generation were gathered unto their 
fathers: and there arose another generation after them, 
which knew not the Lord, nor yet not the works which he 
had done for Israel. 

ii — 23. Israel's tra?isgression after Joshua's death, 
11 And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of 

7. outlived] Translated overlived in Josh. xxiv. 31. Lit., as marg. 
prolonged their days after, 

great] This word is not found in the parallel passage in Joshua. It 
is not unimportant to discover why. The answer is that in the book 
of Joshua, written possibly even before the apostasy of Israel recorded 
in ch. iii., there is no thought of such a rebellion against God as this 
book records ; but here, where the author is proceeding to relate the 
backslidings of Israel, the word is designedly introduced to mark his 
sense of the grievousness of their sin. 

9. Timnath-heres] Called Timnath-serah in Josh. xxiv. 30. The 
LXX. has Timnath-serah here. But the reading Timnath-heres (Tim- 
nath of the sun), is an early one. From it the Rabbinical tradition has 
arisen that he at whose word the sun stood still, had a representation 
of the sun upon his sepulchre, and hence the name. But it is probable 
that the letters were transposed by an early copyist. Timnath-serah 
has been identified with the modern Tibneh, among the mountains of 
Ephraim, where there are some remarkable rock-hewn tombs. But 
Jewish tradition fixes the site at Kefr Harts, and Jewish tradition, 
which has preserved Abraham's sepulchre and Jacob's well, has been 
thought by the majority to be a safe guide here. Of the hill Gaash 
nothing is known, save its mention in 2 Sam. xxiii. 30, and 1 Chron. 
xi. 32. 

11—23. Israel's transgression after Joshua's death. 

11. evil] The original is stronger, the evil, i. e. , either the evil 
which brought upon them the troubles related in this book, or rather 
by way of emphasis, "that which was evil," as it is often rendered in 
the A. V. 

v. 12.] JUDGES, II. 63 

the Lord, and served Baalim : and they forsook the Lord " 
God of their fathers, which brought them out of the 
land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of 
the people that were round about them, and bowed them- 

Baalim] Literally, lords. Either (1) as a pluralis excellentiae, like 
Elohim, or (2) with Drusius, a general name for all the Baals of Syria 
who were worshipped under various names (perhaps as Lenormant and 
Bertheau suggest, from being "secondary divinities, emanating from 
the substance of the deity and mere personifications of his attributes ") 
such as Baal-gad, Baal-hermon, Dagon of the Philistines, Melkarth of 
Tyre, Moloch and Milcom of the Ammonites, Chemosh of Moab and 
the like (ch. x. 6, 1 Kings xi. 5, 7). The number of the places to 
which the word Baal was prefixed shews the universality of the worship 
in Palestine before Joshua. Various opinions have been held concern- 
ing the attributes of Baal. Keil says (1) that he was "a sun-god, and 
as such the vehicle and source of physical life and of the generative 
and productive powers of nature." The learned Movers (Die Phonizier, 
I. 190) regards him (2) as having united in himself the characteristics 
of the sun-god, Mars and Saturn, i.e. "the engendering, preserving, 
and destructive principles." The early Assyrian worship separates the 
worship of Bel from that of Samas the sun-god (see Rawlinson, Ancient 
Monarchies, II.). And such words as Beth-shemesh, Ir-shemesh, Kir- 
heres and perhaps Timnath-heres (but see last note) imply that the sun 
was worshipped separately in Palestine. But, however this may be, one 
thing is certain, that the worship of Baal was a grossly licentious wor- 
ship, fatal to the morals of all who took part in it, and therefore rightly 
an abomination in the eyes of the Jews. 

12. and they forsook} Cf. Deut. xxxi. 16, 17. "The securitie of 
any people is the cause of their corruption ; standing waters soone 
grow noysome. Whiles they were exercised with warre, how scrupulous 
were they of the least intimation of idolatry? the newes of a bare altar 
beyond Jordan (Josh, xxii.) drew them together for a revenge, now they 
are at peace with their enemies they are at variance with God : It is 
both hard and happy not to be the worse with liberty ; The sedentary 
life is most subject to diseases." Bp. Hall, Contemplations, (Ed. 161 7). 
So also Juvenal, Sat. vi. 292 : 

"Nunc patimur longae pacis mala. Saevior armis 
Luxuria incubuit victumque ulciscitur orbem." 

And Tennyson, Maud, VI. 5 : 

"It is better to fight for the good than to rail at the ill." 

The Lord God of their fathers} "The Lord" in this passage is 
Jehovah in the original, thus contrasting the name of the God of Israel 
with the name of the Phoenician deity. Render, Jehovah, the God of 
their fathers. 

64 JUDGES, II. [vv. 13—15. 

13 selves unto them, and provoked the Lord to anger. And 
they forsook the Lord, and served Baal and Ashtaroth. 

14 And the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and he 
delivered them into the hands of spoilers that spoiled them, 
and he sold them into the hands of their enemies round 
about, so that they could not any longer stand before their 

is enemies. Whithersoever they went out, the hand of the 
Lord was against them for evil, as the Lord had said, and 

provoked the Lord to anger] We must never lose sight of the fact that 
this was no mere contention for forms of worship, but that the most- 
frightful moral contamination clung to the worship of Phoenicia and 
Syria. Lenormant (Ancient History of the East, 11. 223) refers to its 
gloomy and repulsive character, issuing as it did in the cruel practice of 
human sacrifices. See also Levit. xviii. 24 — 28. 

13. Ashtaroth] This goddess, the Assyrian Ishtar, the Syrian 
Astarte, the Greek aster, and our star (though Canon Rawlinson denies 
the connection of the Semitic and Aryan roots here) seems to have 
combined the conception of the Greek Hera, Artemis and Aphrodite, 
and was worshipped both as the moon-goddess and as Venus. She 
was usually represented with a crescent, which might have denoted 
either, since the phases of Venus (Sayce, Babylonian Literature, 
pp. 50 — 56) were known to Chaldean astronomers. Numbers of altars 
have been discovered, especially lately, among the Hittite remains 
which are now so frequently brought to light. One is in the Fitz- 
william museum at Cambridge, with a male figure, representing Baal, 
on one side, and a female figure with a crescent, representing Ashtaroth, 
on the other. Her worship was that of "the second nature-godhead 
which was honoured as the female principle in conjunction with Baal 
the male principle" (Bertheau). Under all three characters of Baal 
(see note above) he was allied with a female principle, the Astarte of 
Syria, who herself appears in various forms, as has been already stated. 
This conjunction of male and female deities was also a characteristic of 
the ancient Chaldean and Assyrian worship. See Rawlinson, Ancient 
Monarchies. The worship of Astarte, originally pure, gradually as- 
sumed the grossest possible character, and one of its chief seats was 
Aphek or Aphik (ch. i. 31). The tablets of Rameses II. recording his 
wars with the Hittites, mention Astert as one of their deities. 

14. spoilers] This word, which occurs first in this passage, is a mark 
of independent authorship. See Introduction. Also 2 Kings xvii. 20. 

sold them] This term represents the absolute giving up into the 
hands of their enemies. It is no doubt derived from the idea of 
selling a slave. The converse process is redemption. The expression 
is frequently used in this book, and occurs elsewhere in Deut. xxxii. 30 ; 
1 Sam. xii. 9. Cf. also 1 Kings xxi. 20 ; 2 Kings xvii. 17. 

15. as the Lord had said] In Levit. xxvi. and Deut. xxviii., xxix. . 

vv. 16- iS.] JUDGES, II. 65 

as the Lord had sworn unto them : and they were greatly- 
distressed. Nevertheless the Lord raised up judges, which 16 
delivered them out of the hand of those that spoiled them. 
And yet they would not hearken unto their judges, but they 17 
went a whoring after other gods, and bowed themselves unto 
them: they turned quickly out of the way which their fa- 
thers walked in, obeying the commandments of the Lord; 
but they did not so. And when the Lord raised them up 18 
judges, then the Lord was with the judge, and delivered 
them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the 

were greatly distressed] Lit. were in great straits, as in 1 Sam. 
xxiv. 14, cf. Gen. xxxii. 7 ; 1 Sam. xxx. 6. The word in the original 
signifies to be narrow, hence to be pent up, or pressed down. 

16. judges] Shophetim, from a word related to shebet, or shevet, a 
staff ox rod (the English shaft), hence a tribe. Some think the word is 
derived from the idea of setting upright, like the German richten 
(whence Richter, judges). Some, though with less probability, derive 
it from the staff of office borne by the judge (cf. Horn., Iliad, I. 234 ; 
XVIII. 505). The Carthaginian term suffetes is kindred to the Hebrew 
shophei. For this and for their office, see Introduction. 

17. And yet] Lit. and also. The meaning is that they would not 
listen even to the judge who had delivered them. So the LXX. and 

went a whoring] This expression must not be understood only of the 
spiritual sin of leaving the God to whom they had been espoused (see 
Jer. ii. 2 ; Ezek. xvi.), but literally also. See Exod. xxxiv. 15, 16 as well 
as notes on Baalim and Ashtaroth and the narrative in Numb. xxv. 

bowed themselves] Or prostrated themselves, probably touching the 
ground with the forehead, as Eastern nations do still at their devotions. 
The word is most frequently found in connection with another verb, 
"and they bowed the head and worshipped," the word translated 
"worshipped" being the one used here. With this whole passage 
compare Ps. cvi. 34 — 45. 

obeying] Lit., to hearken to, 

but they did not so] There is no but in the original. The words 
"they did not so" or "thus," are in close connection with what pre- 
cedes; "they turned in haste from the way in which their fathers 
walked, to hearken unto the commandments of the Lord : they did not 

18. the Lord was with the judge] Nothing great was done, accord- 
ing to the writers of the Old Testament, but by God's help (see 
Deut. viii. 17; Ps. xliv. 3}. Even the artistic skill of Bezaleel and 
Aholiab, who prepared the "cunning work" for the tabernacle, was 
the result of God's spirit dwelling in them (Ex. xxviii. 3, xxxi. 3, xxxv. 31). 
This is as true now as it ever was, in spite of man's frequent misuse of 
God's gifts. 


66 JUDGES, II. [vv. 19—23. 

judge: for it repented the Lord because of their groanings 
by reason of them that oppressed them and vexed them. 
=9 And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they 
returned, and corrupted themselves more than their fathers, 
in following other gods to serve them, and to bow down 
unto them ; they ceased not from their own doings, nor 

20 from their stubborn way. And the anger of the Lord was 
hot against Israel; and he said, Because that this people 
hath transgressed my covenant which I commanded their 

21 fathers, and have not hearkened unto my voice ; I also will 
not henceforth drive out any from before them of the 

22 nations which Joshua left when he died : that through them 
I may prove Israel, whether they will keep the way of the 
Lord to walk therein, as their fathers did keep it, or not. 

23 Therefore the Lord left those nations, without driving them 

it repented the Lord] This is one of the many instances of condescen- 
sion to the imperfection of human speech which are to be found in the 
Scriptures. See Gen. vi. 6 ; Jonah iii. 10, &c. Strictly speaking, God 
never repents. His nature is unchangeable (Nurnb. xxiii. 19 ; 1 Sam. 
xv. 29; James i. 17). But his attitude to man is relatively changed 
when man turns to him, as is the case here. Therefore the change of 
relations between God and the sinner when the latter forsakes his sin, 
is not inaptly described by the figure in the text. 

vexed theni\ This is one of the phrases which are almost peculiar to 
the book of Judges, and which occurs for the first time here. It seems 
to have the notion of thrusting violently or stamping upon. 

19. when the judge was dead] " How powerfull the presence of 
one good man is in a Church or State, is best found in his losse." 
Bp. Hall. 

ceased not] Lit. caused not to fall, or, as marg., let nothing fall, 
stubborn] Lit. hard. It is the expression translated ^//^f-necked in 
Exod. xxxii. 9, xxxiii. 3; Deut. ix. 6, 13. 

20. people. Rather, nation. See the translation in v. 23. It is the 
less familiar of the two prose words for people in Hebrew. It is the 
term used for the Gentiles " the nations." Another word ('am) is used 
when the " people of the Lord" are spoken of. 

21. henceforth] Ox, any more. Heb. / will not add. 
drive out] See Josh, xxiii. 13. 

left when he died] See ch. iii. 1 — 3, and Josh. xiii. 1 — 6. 

23. left] Heb. caused to remain, or rest. It was never God's 
intention to deliver these nations into the hand of Israel at once. See 
Deut. vii. 22. But these nations were used by God as a test of Israel's 
steadfastness in resisting the seductive temptations to which a residence 
in the midst of Canaanitish worship exposed them. 

vv. 1-3.] JUDGES, III. 67 

out hastily; neither delivered he them into the hand of 

Chap. III. 1 — 7. The influence of the heathen nations 
remaining in Canaan, 

Now these are the nations which the Lord left, to 3 
prove Israel by them, even as many of Israel as had not 
known all the wars of Canaan; only that the generations of 2 
the children of Israel might know, to teach them war, 
at the least such as before knew nothing thereof: namely, 3 
five lords of the Philistines, and all the Canaanites, and the 

Ch. III. 1 — 7. The influence of the heathen nations 


1. left] See last note. 

as many of Israel as had not known] See ch. ii. 10. 

2. might knozv] This construction is elliptical. The translation is 
"that the children of Israel might know — to teach them (i.e. that they 
might be taught) — war, at least those who before had not known them, 1 ' 
i. e. wars. The Vulgate gives the sense well, "ut postea discerent filii 
eorum certare cum hostibus et habere consuetudinem praeliandi." Ber- 
theau, however, translates "that the Lord might know the children 
of Israel to teach them war." This verse is not contradictory to 
ch. ii. 22, 23. War was a necessity to the children of Israel if they 
were to retain their possession of Palestine in the face of the three great 
military monarchies, the Egyptian, the Assyrian and the Hittite, which 
bordered on them. As they must necessarily be able to retain their 
possessions by the sword, it might be very reasonably considered that 
one valuable result of the presence of the Canaanite and other tribes in 
Palestine was to train the Israelites in warlike exercises. 

at the least] This is the same word as that translated " only" above. 
the?-eof] i.e., as the Hebrew shews, the wars of Canaan. 

3. five lords] The Hebrew word seren, here used, is applied 
exclusively to the Philistines. Its precise meaning is doubtful (the 
LXX. renders it satrapies), but it shews that at this early period the 
Philistines, like the Gibeonites (Josh. x. 2), were not under a kingly 
government, as they were in the days of Saul and David (1 Sam. xxi. 10). 
The five lordships of the Philistines were Gath, Ashdod, Gaza, Ashke- 
lon and Ekron. See Josh. xiii. 3 ; 1 Sam. vi. 17. 

Philistines] This people was of Egyptian origin (Gen. x. 14; Deut. 
ii. 23; 1 Chron. i. 12). They were closely related to the Caphtorim, 
who were, as Ewald and Hitzig believe, Cretans. Winer (Realworter- 
ditch, s. v.) supposes these last to have come over at an early period and 
dispossessed the Canaanitish aborigines, the Avim or Avvim. These 
writers (see also Ritter's Geography of Palestine, III. 278), believe the 

s— 2 

63 JUDGES, III. [v. 4. 

Sidonians, and the Hivites that dwelt in mount Lebanon, 
from mount Eaal-hermon unto the entering in of Hamath. 
And they were to prove Israel by them, to know whe- 
ther they would hearken unto the commandments of the 
Lord, which he commanded their fathers by the hand of 

Cherethites and Pelethites who, with the Gittites, formed David's 
body-guard (2 Sam. xv. 18) to have been Cretans and Philistines. If 
this be the case, we have an additional illustration of the kinship of 
these two peoples. And that it is not altogether improbable we may 
infer from 1 Sam. xxx. 14; Ezek. xxv. 16; Zeph. ii. 4, 5, as well as 
from the fact that Ittai, a Gittite, or native of Gath, was one of David's 
trustiest soldiers (2 Sam. xv. 19, 21). So also was Uriah the Hittite, 
2 Sam. xi. 3. For a more detailed account of the Philistines see the 
Commentary on 1 Samuel in this series, Appendix, Note IV. 

Hivites] Or rather Hivvites, inhabitants of villages. See note on 
Perizzites, ch. i. 4. This tribe were to be found in the extreme north 
(cf. also Josh. xi. 3) at Gibeon (Josh. xi. 19), and at Shechem in the 
days of Jacob (Gen. xxxiv. 2). 

in mount Lebanon] The range of mountains in the extreme north of 
Palestine, famed to this day for their renowned cedar-groves. 

from mount Baal- her mon\ The LXX. read " mount Hermon," but 
see 1 Chron. v. 23. Lenormant supposes Hermon to have received 
this name as one of the places where Baal was worshipped. See notes 
on ch. ii. 11, xx. 33. 

Hennon] Called Sirion and Shenir (Deut. iii. 9 ; 1 Chron. v. 23 ; 
Ps. xxix. 6 ; Cant. iv. 8) ; also Sion — not to be confounded with the 
^ore famous Zion, which is differently spelt — in Deut. iv. 48. 
This magnificent mountain, the highest in Palestine, and visible from 
nearly every part of the Holy Land (see Tristram, Land of Lsrael, 
p. 609, Thomson, Land and the Book, p. 2, Stanley, Sinai and 
Palestine, p. 395), forms the southern extremity of the Anti-Lebanon 
range, which runs parallel to the Lebanon range in a north-easterly 
direction. It rises to a height of 9,200 feet and is covered with perpetual 

the entering in of Hamath] See Numb, xxxiv. 8 ; Josh. xiii. 5. This 
was the border of Israel at the time of its highest prosperity ( 1 Kings 
viii. 6$ ; 2 Kings xiv. 25). The expression refers to the northern extre- 
mity of the great depression between the Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon 
range known as the Buk'eia, or Coele Syria, spoken of by Van de Velde 
as " an entrance formed by nature itself." See also Robinson, Researches 
in Palestine, Appendix II., and Later Biblical Researches, sec. 12. 
Perhaps the most accurate explanation of the meaning of the phrase 
would be "up to the mouth of the valley which opens out upon Hamath," 
which stood, not in the valley, but on the Orontes, some fifty miles 
north of its entrance. 

vv . 5 _ 7 .] JUDGES, III. 69 

And the children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, 5 
Hittites, and Amorites, and Perizzites, and Hivites, and Jebu- 
sites : and they took their daughters to be their wives, and 6 
gave their daughters to their sons, and served their gods. 
And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, 7 
and forgat the Lord their God, and served Baalim and the 

5. Canaanites] The inference from these words is that these were 
not genealogical, but geographical appellations. The inhabitants of 
Canaan seem to have been a congeries of various races, who adopted 
a common Semitic language, and were attracted to the country 
(1) by the commercial facilities* afforded by its sea-coast, (2) by the 
fertility of its lowland districts, and (3) by the strength of its moun- 
tain fastnesses. Such a people (see Rawlinsoh, Historical Illustrations 
of the O. T., p. «7)j the ancient Babylonians seem also to have been, 
though the phenomena presented by their language are not precisely 
identical. Peaceful in their habits* and enervated by luxury, the 
Canaanites desired only to dwell safely in the pursuit of agriculture and 
commerce. The word Canaanite signifies lozulander, Amorite high- 
lander, Perizzite dweller in the open country, Hivite dweller in villages, 
Jebusite probably thresher. The Hittites alone seem to have preserved 
their national designation, as emigrants from an important Turanian 
kingdom which existed outside the limits of Palestine. See note on ch. 
i. 4. Also Movers Die Phbnizier, 11. 1.3. Brugsch, Hist. Egypt, II. 3. 

6. And they took their daughters] The sacred writers are very care- 
ful to point out the evil of marriages with unbelievers. See Gen. xxiv. 
3, xxvi. 35, xxvii. 46; Exod. xxxiv. 16; Deut. vii. 3, 4; 1 Kings xvi. 31; 
2 Chron. xviii. 1 (with which compare xix. 2, xxi. 6, xxii. 10, 12). 

7. the groves] So the LXX. and Vulgate. Heb. Asheroth. This is 
not the same word as Ashtaroth. It begins with Aleph not 'Ain. They 
were usually wooden pillars, as is shewn by the fact that they were often 
cut down and burned. See 2 Kings xxiii. 6, 15. Also Deut. xii. 3. The 
stone pillars of Baal were on the contrary said to be " broken down." 
See Exod. xxxiv. 13 ; Deut. vii. 5, &c. Some, as Bertheau and Heng- 
stenberg, have held that the Asherah was a wooden image or symbol of 
Astarte. But the learned historian of Phoenicia, Movers {Phbnizier, I. 
560) holds Asherah to have been a totally different goddess to Ashtaroth 
and remarks that Scripture itself distinguishes between them. Gese- 
nius supposes, from the connection of the word with the Hebrew Asher, 
happiness, that she was the goddess of fortune. Movers, however, 
imagines that the name was derived from the idea of standing upright, 
and refers to the Artemis Orthosia of Herodotus, IV. 87. The narrative 
of ch. vi. 25 — 30 shews that " grove " cannot be the correct translation. 
It would have been impossible for Gideon unaided to have cut down a 
grove in a single night, or, having attempted to do so, to have eluded 

70 JUDGES, III. [w. 8-10. 

8 — ii. The oppression by Chushan-rishathawi. 

8 Therefore the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, 
and he sold them into the hand of Chushan-rishathaim 
king of Mesopotamia: and the children of Israel served 

9 Chushan-rishathaim eight years. And when the children 
of Israel cried unto the Lord, the Lord raised up a de- 
liverer to the children of Israel, who delivered them, even 

10 Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother. And 
the spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he judged Israel, 

8—11. The oppression by Chushan-rishathaim. 

8. sold them] See note on ch. ii. 14. 

Chushan-rishathaim] Literally CiAh (or Chushan, Hab. iii. 7) of 
double wickedness. The Targum translates " Chushan the wicked, king 
of Syria on Euphrates" and the Syriac and Arabic versions give a 
similar rendering. But the use of the dual in the case of an abstract 
noun is unknown in Hebrew. Rishathaim must therefore be a proper 
name. See next note. It has been conjectured (Rawlinson, Ancient 
Monarchies, II. 61) that this monarch is identical with Asshur-ris-ilim 
the "powerful king, subduer of rebellious countries" as he is called in 
Assyrian inscriptions. But there are two objections to this identifi- 
cation; (1) that, as Hitzig observes, the name is clearly Turanian and 
(2) that Chushan- Rishathaim flourished about B.C. 1400, i.e. about the 
period of the fall of the early Turanian monarchy which (Gen. x. 6 — 10, 
cf. Rawlinson, Anc. Mon., ch. 3, Sayce, Babyl. Lit., p. 6, and Lenormant, 
Chaldean Magic, ch. 27) existed before the rise of the Semitic kingdom 
whose seat (Gen. x. 11, 22) was Nineveh; whereas Asshur-ris-ilim is 
supposed to have reigned about 1 150 B.C. 

Mesopotamia] Heb. Aram-naharaim, i.e. Syria of the two rivers^ 
that is, the district between the Tigris and the Euphrates. 

9. a deliverer] Or, as marg. saviour, LXX. cruTTjp. This passage must 
have been recalled to the mind of every Hellenistic Jew by Acts xiii. 23. 

Othniel] Supposing Othniel to have been twenty-five years old 
when he took Kirjath-sepher (see note on ch. i. 8), if we count twenty 
years from that time to the invasion of Chushan-rishathaim, and the 
eight years mentioned in this verse, Othniel would by this time have 
been but fifty-three. And supposing him to have lived through the 
whole of the subsequent forty years (v. 11) he would not have been 
more than ninety-three at his death. 

10. And the spirit of the Lord] So ch. vi. 34, xi. 29, xiii. 25, xiv. 
6, 19. The Targum renders ''the Spirit of prophecy from before the 
Lord." Joshua is described in Numb, xxvii. 18 as "a man in whom 
was the Spirit." See note above, ch. ii. 18: "This gift, like every 
other, has faith as its foundation. Yet human weakness is not thereby 
excluded." Hengstenberg. It is remarkable that the historian does 
not ascribe the conduct of Ehud and Jael to His inspiration, though 
the deliverance by Ehud is of course so ascribed. See notes below. 

vv. 11-T5.J JUDGES, III. 71 

and went out to war: and the Lord delivered Chushan- 
rishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand; and his 
hand prevailed against Chushan-rishathaim. And the land « 
had rest forty years. And Othniel the son of Kenaz died. 

1 2 — 30. The servitude tinder Moab, and deliverance by 

And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of 12 
the Lord : and the Lord strengthened Eglon the king of 
Moab against Israel, because they had done evil in the 
sight of the Lord. And he gathered unto him the children 13 
of Ammon and Amalek, and went and smote Israel, and 
possessed the city of palm trees. So the children of Israel 14 
served Eglon the king of Moab eighteen years. But when 15 

and he judged Israeli The functions of the judge seem to be de- 
scribed here in accordance with the idea of righting what was wrong 
in any way (cf. the German richter). Some think that what is meant 
is that Othniel wrought out a moral reformation before he went out to 
war. But this does not seem to be borne out by the other passages in 
this book where the expression is used. 

and the Lord delivered} Josephus states that Othniel (whom he 
calls Kenaz) accomplished this deliverance by collecting a band of 
resolute men and surprising the king's guard. 

12 — 30. The servitude under Moab, and deliverance by 

13. the children of Amnion] These, as they originally were very 
near akin (Gen. xix. 37, 38), and their territories lay close together,, 
would naturally have been closely allied in policy and war. See also 
ch. xi. r3 — 16, 25, 27, and notes. 

Amalek\ Amalek is mentioned in conjunction with Ammon in Ps. 
lxxxiii. 7. They were specially regarded as enemies to Israel (see 
Exod. xvii. 16). Their territory lay in the Sinaitic peninsula, while 
that of the Moabites lay to the northward of it, east of the Dead Sea, 
and the Ammonites lay further north still. After Saul's great cam- 
paign, which almost exterminated them (1 Sam. xv.), and which he 
prosecuted (1 Sam. xv. 7) to the borders of Egypt, we hear very little 
of them in history. They appear once, still warring against Israel, in 
the later reigns (1 Chron. iv. 43). 

the city of palm trees] See ch. i. 16. Though Jericho was destroyed, 
Eglon might have constructed a fortification among the ruins. 

15. But when the children of Israel cried\ Or, and the children of 
Israel cried. 

72 JUDGES, III. [vv. 16—19. 

the children of Israel cried unto the Lord, the Lord raised 
them up a deliverer, Ehud the son of Gera, a Benjamite, 
a man lefthanded : and by him the children of Israel sent 

16 a present unto Eglon the king of Moab. But Ehud made 
him a dagger which had two edges, of a cubit length ; and 

17 he did gird it under his raiment upon his right thigh. And 
he brought the present unto Eglon king of Moab : and 

18 Eglon was a very fat man. And when he had made an end 
to offer the present, he sent away the people that bare the 

19 present. But he himself turned again from the quarries that 

the Lord raised] " The same hand that raised up Eglon against 
Israel {v. 12) raised up also Ehud for Israel, against Eglon." Bp Hall. 

deliverer] As above, v. 9, "God stirred up and strengthened Ehud 
for the delivery of Israel. But the choice of means was left to himself." 
Hengstenberg. See also note on v. 10. 

lefthanded] Heb. shut as to his right hand. Seech, xx. 16. The LXX 
renders by double-handed, and the Vulgate, qui utraque manu pro dex- 
tera utebatur. But this goes beyond the original, which clearly implies 
that the right hand was to a certain extent disabled by the exclusive 
use of the left. Blunt {Undesigned Coincidences, 11. 4), suggests that 
Ehud was actually one of the six hundred Benjamites of whom we read 
in ch. xx. 47 (cf. v. 16). The event, according to Lightfoot and others, 
occurred about thirteen years before this. "What a strange choice doth 
God make of an executioner ! A man shut of his right hand ! It is the 
ordinary wont of the Almighty to make choice of the unlikeliest 
means." Bp. Hall. 

a present] Heb. minchah, the word used of the meat offerings in 
Levit. ii. 1, &c. It seems to have been (1) an acknowledgment of 
dependence and obligation, (2) a token of good will. See Gen. xxxii. 
18 ; 2 Sam. viii. 2, 6, for a similar use of the word. In the last passage 
it is translated gifts. 

16. a dagger] The Hebrew has sword. So the LXX and Vulgate. 
edges] Lit. mouths. See note on ch. i. 8. 

a cubit] So the Syriac and Arabic. The LXX and Vulgate have 
span. The word is not the usual one for cubit, but one which only 
occurs here. It means apparently something cut off, hence a small 
rod or staff. 

raiment] The word denotes wide flowing garments. 

17. fat] The LXX renders by a word equivalent to our fine man. 
See Acts vii. 20, Heb. xi. 23 (Greek). 

19. quarries] The LXX, Vulgate and our margin have graven 
images or idols. The Targum renders as our version. The Syriac 
leaves the word untranslated, while the Arabic substitutes Palestine 
for Pesilim. The word is rendered "graven images" in Deut. vii. 25, 
cf. Is. xxi. 9; Jer. viii. 19. It is never used elsewhere of quarries. 
But it is derived from a word signifying to hew stones. See Exod. 

yv.20.2i.] JUDGES, III. 73 

were by Gilgal, and said, I have a secret errand unto thee, 
O king : who said, Keep silence. And all that stood by 
him went out from him. And Ehud came unto him ; and 20 
he was sitting in a summer parlour, which he had for himself 
alone. And Ehud said, I have a message from God unto 
thee. And he arose out of his seat. And Ehud put forth 2t 
his left hand, and took the dagger from his right thigh, and 

xxxiv. r, 4; Deut. x. 1, 3, &c. where this word is used of the making 
the two tables of stone on which the Law was written. 

Gilgal] This must have been the first encampment of the children 
of Israel, inasmuch as that (Josh. iv. 19, v. 10, 13) was close by Jeri- 
cho. Keil's objection that it must have been the other Gilgal, near 
Bethel, because it lay in Ehud's way to Mount Ephraim (vv. 26, 27) is 
of no weight, since fugitives often strive to baffle their pursuers by 
taking a circuitous route. 

Keep silence] The word in the original is has, equivalent to our 

20. a summer parlour] So also Wiclif. Lit., the tipper room of 
cooling. Luther translates by summer arbour. It "corresponds in 
every respect to what the Turks call a keushk (kiosk). It consists of a 
small room built by itself on the roof of the house, having many win- 
dows to catch the breeze. There is a kiosk similar to that of King 
Eglon standing a few rods from the palace of Cheragan on the edge of 
the Bosphorus, which was a favourite resort of the late Sultan." Van 
Lennep, Bible Customs-, 443, 4. There was frequently a door of com- 
munication with the outside, whence persons having secret audience 
might be admitted and dismissed. The expression is only found here. 
Though this chamber was no doubt also a hall of private audience, 
no idea of the kind is suggested by the word, as it is by our translation, 
where the word parlour (from parler, to speak) originally signified 
atidience-cham ber. 

a message from God] Lit., a word of God-. It is observable 
that the name of Jehovah is not used, as it usually is on occasions of 
this kind. Eglon would have paid but little attention to a communica- 
tion from the deity whose worshippers he had overthrown. Cf. 2 Kings 
xviii. 33—35. But on receiving what he supposed to be a Divine com- 
munication, he arose reverently from his seat. It has been objected 
that Ehud could not be supposed to have been the deliverer of a mes- 
sage from Chemosh, the Moabite deity (1 Kings xi. 7). But there was 
a general belief in a Divine being, apart from the particular name and 
attributes under which he was worshipped in any particular country. 
The Talmud (Sanhedrin, 50 a) supposing the message to have been 
from Jehovah, draws the inference that if a heathen rises up to receive 
a message from God, much more should an Israelite do so. Even 
Ewald admits that this history bears upon the face of its details the 
mark of genuineness. 

74 JUDGES, III. [vv. 22—25. 

2? thrust it into his belly : and the haft also went in after the 
blade ; and the fat closed upon the blade, so that he could 
not draw the dagger out of his belly ; and the dirt came out. 

23 Then Ehud went forth through the porch, and shut the 

24 doors of the parlour upon him, and locked them. When he 
was gone out, his servants came ; and when they saw that 
behold, the doors of the parlour were locked, they said, 

25 Surely he covereth his feet in his summer chamber. And 

21. thrusf] Rather struck or smote, as in ch. iv. 21. 

22. blade] This word is unusual in this sense, and occurs first here. 
It signifies flame in ch. xiii. 20 ; and is applied to the blade of the 
sword here on account of its flashing. 

and the dirt came out] A great number of translations have been 
suggested here on account of the fact that one of the words here used 
occurs nowhere else. On the whole the translation in the margin 
appears preferable to any other. 

23. through the porch] This word only occurs here. It signifies 
the outer staircase or its entrance (see note on summer parlour, v. 20) 
through which those admitted to a private audience were dismissed. 
This accounts for Ehud's departure having been unnoticed. The word 
is derived from the banisters (or, more properly, balusters, from the 
Italian balai/stro), which were upon the staircase. The original signifies 
in the direction of, or, by the way of the staircase, as is implied by 
the fact that Ehud is said to have shut the door after him, which he 
could not have done after he had passed "through the porch." 

upon him] The best authorities are divided on the point whether 
"him " refers to Eglon or Ehud. The former is preferable, because we 
learn from the next verse that it was the inner door through which 
Ehud entered, and not the outer one, through which he went away, that 
he secured. 

locked them] There is no "them" in the original, which occurs first 
here. The word signifies to fasten, and comes from the same root as 
the word signifying shoe or sandal, because it was fastened on the feet. 
The LXX. renders wedged it up, but that locked is the correct trans- 
lation appears from v. 25, 

24. doors] Many of the doors in the East are still double doors, and 
as it is evident from this place that those of Eglon's summer chamber 
were. The word translated door comes from a root signifying to hang, 
whence we learn that the doors of the Hebrews were swung on hinges, 
such as may still be seen in the ruins of the cities of Bashan. "The outer 
door was a slab or stone four and a half feet high, four wide, and eight 
inches thick. It hung upon pivots, formed of projecting parts of the 
slab working in sockets on the lintel and threshold, and though so 
massive, I was able to open it with ease." Porter, Giant Cities of 
Bashan, p. 26. 

covereth his feet] An euphemistic term for performing the offices of 

vv. 26—28.] JUDGES, III. 75 

they tarried till they were ashamed : and behold, he opened 
not the doors of the parlour; therefore they took a key, and 
opened them : and behold, their lord was fallen down dead 
on the earth. And Ehud escaped while they tarried, and 26 
passed beyond the quarries, and escaped unto Seirath. And 27 
it came to pass, when he was come, that he blew a trumpet 
in the mountain of Ephraim, and the children of Israel went 
down with him from the mount, and he before them. And 23 
he said unto them, Follow after me : for the Lord hath 
delivered your enemies the Moabites into your hand. 
And they went down after him, and took the fords of Jordan 

nature. See 1 Sam. xxiv. 3. The style of dress in the East explains it. 
See a note in Gesenius, Lexicon, s. v. shatan. 

25. till they were ashamed] The whole passage shews (r) that 
Eglon was a monarch who enjoyed to the full the state usually connected 
in later periods with the regal dignity, and (2) that the customary de- 
cencies of civilization were by no means unknown, at least among the 
higher classes, in the times, and among the peoples, with whom this 
history deals. 

a key] Lit. the opener. 

26. tarried] The word is not the same as in the last verse. There 
it signifies to wait : here it implies a certain amount of reproach, they 
delayed. Cf. Gen. xix. 16, xliii. 10. 

quarries] See note, v. 19. 

Seirath] Or, Seirah. It signifies woody (literally, hairy) district, 
and was a common name of a woody, mountain country. Compare 
Seir, the home of Esau, and another mount Seir on the northern border 
of Judah, near Chesalon (Josh. xv. 10). Beyond the fact that it was 
among the mountains of Ephraim, we do not know where this place is. 

27. fro7?i the mount] Or from the mountain district, to whose fast- 
nesses the children of Israel had retreated to escape the oppression of 
Eglon. The description is given with "local minuteness" (Ewald, 
Hist. Israel, II. 277). In those days of cruel warfare and oppression, the 
home of liberty was always in the mountains. As the narrative of 
Xenophon shews, the mountain peoples in the Persian Empire were 
practically independent of the central power. So in the Middle Ages, 
the Swiss mountaineers defied alike the power of Austria and Burgundy. 
And among ourselves the history of Wales and the Highlands of Scotland 
are proofs that even a powerful government had very little real authority 
in the inaccessible recesses of the mountains. It is only the rapid ad- 
vance of modern discovery which has enabled us to penetrate these 
regions, and to place the invaders of a mountain district upon a footing 
of something more like equality with its defenders. 

28. the fords of Jordan] See Josh. ii. 7, and cf. Numb, xxxiii. 48, 
49, and Josh. ii. 1. There is still a ford near Riha, the , site of the 

76 JUDGES, III. [vv. 29—31. 

29 toward Moab, and suffered not a man to pass over. And 
they slew of Moab at that time about ten thousand men, all 
lusty, and all men of valour ; and there escaped not a man. 

30 So Moab was subdued that day under the hand of Israel. 
And the land had rest fourscore years. 

31. The deliverance by Shamgar. 

31 And after him was Shamgar the son of Anath, which slew 

ancient Jericho. It is about an hour's journey in a north-easterly 
direction from the northern extremity of the Dead Sea (Bartlett, From 
Egypt to Palestine, p. 45 1). For the fords mentioned in ch. vii. 24, 
and ch. xii. 5, see notes there. 

toward Moab] Lit. to Moab. Some prefer to render from the 
Moabites. But this puts a strained construction on the words. Nor is 
there any need of it, for it is obvious Ehud's object was to cut otf 
the retreat of the Moabites from Jericho by taking possession of the ford 
in their homeward route. 

29. And they slew] Lit. and they smote. 

lusty] lAt.fat. It is not the same word as that used of Eglon, v. 17. 
That gives rather the idea of gross feeding; this either (1) like the Greek 
\nrapos, having the meaning of oily, shiny, and hence of a clear com- 
plexion, of robust health, or (2) like our stout, which originally referring 
to men of portly frame, is sometimes used as equivalent to strong. 
The word only occurs here in this sense; but a kindred word is found in 
the same sense in Ps. lxxviii. 31, where it is clearly parallel to "chosen 

30. was subdued] Lit. was bowed. It is the word from which 
Canaan is derived. 

fourscore years] The spirit of the Moabites must therefore have been 
effectually broken by this triumph of Israel, though their loss in battle 
does not seem to have been great. Probably the reason why Ehud 
resorted to assassination was that he was aware of the probability of a 
disputed succession in Moab, after the death of Eglon. The LXX. adds 
"and Ehud judged them till he died," and this, though not expressly 
asserted in the narrative, appears to be implied by ch. iv. 1. And in 
spite of Ehud's crime, as it appears to us who live under a clearer light, 
his influence over the Israelites was clearly a salutary one. 

31. The deliverance by Shamgar. 

31. And after him] Not after his death (see ch. iv. 1) but after he 
had smitten the Moabites. No doubt a dangerous invasion of the 
Philistines was repelled by Shamgar, who thereby obtained the right to 
be numbered among the deliverers of Israel. But it is nowhere said 
that he judged Israel. From this the conclusion seems irresistible that 
this exploit was performed during the life-time of Ehud. See last note. 
" From the passage in the song of Deborah (ch. v. 6) his resistance to the 

v. 2.] JUDGES, IV. 77 

of the Philistines six hundred men with an ox goad : and he 
also delivered Israel. 

Chap. IV. i — 24. The oppression of Jabin^ and the victory 
of Barak. 

And the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of 4 
the Lord, when Ehud was dead. And the Lord sold them 2 
into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, that reigned in 
Hazor \ the captain of whose host was Sisera, which dwelt 

enemies of Israel was not very effective. The highways were impassable 
till the days of Deborah herself." Milman, Hist. Jews, I. 245. Sham- 
gar was no doubt of the tribe of Judah or Dan, and his exploits, like 
those of Samson, purely local. 

with an ox goad] This word is found nowhere else in the Bible. It 
is akin to the name of the letter Lamed, which in its original form 
somewhat resembled this instrument. The goad is a formidable 
weapon. It is sometimes ten feet long, and has a sharp point. We 
could now see that the feat of Shamgar was not so very wonderful as 
some have been accustomed to think." Porter, Giant Cities oj Bashan, 
p. 201. 

Ch. IV. 1 — 24. The oppression of Jabin, and the victory 
of Barak. 

2. sold them. See note on ch. ii. 14. 

Jabin] This seems to have been a common name among the kings 
of Hazor. See Josh. xi. 1. It signifies intelligent. "They had been 
Lords alone of the promised Land, if their commiseration had not over- 
swayed their justice ; and now their enemies are too cruell to them (in 
the just revenge of God) because they were too mercifull." Bp. Hall. 

Hazor] The meaning of this word is fort or castle. The word in 
Hebrew seems to mean anything enclosed, but in the kindred Semitic 
languages the root has the meaning of to wall round, to besiege. A 
similar meaning attaches to our name Chester, with which compare 
Gloucester, Leicester, and the like : Its situation seems to have defied 
explorers, although, as Josephus and the book of Joshua agree, it must 
be found near lake Merom, the modern Huleh (Josh. xi. 1 — 5). Almost 
every fresh traveller seems to have fixed on a different site. Thus 
Robinson discusses the claims of Hazireh, Tell Hazur, and el Hazury 
— the latter suggested by Ritter, and rejects them all, fixing upon 
Khuraibeh (Biblic. Res. II. 366). Tristram {Bible Places, p. 276) thinks 
that Capt. Wilson has " convincingly argued " that Hazor is Tell Harah, 
on an isolated hill, two miles south-east of Kedesh (see note on v. 6). 
That it must have been near Kedesh is evident from Josh. xix. 36, 37, 
it being a feature in these lists that the order of the names is de- 
termined by geographical position. Lieut. Conder decides for Tell 

73 JUDGES, IV. [vv. 3, 4. 

3 in Harosheth of the Gentiles. And the children of Israel 
cried unto the Lord : for he had nine hundred chariots of 
iron ; and twenty years he mightily oppressed the children 

4 of Israel. And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapi- 

Hadireh. The name Hazor or Hazar was a very common one (see 
Numb, xxxiv. 4, 9; Josh. xv. 23, 25, 27, 28, xix. 5, 36, 37), just as 
the termination cester is among ourselves. Hazor must have been 
rebuilt during the time (more than 150 years) which had elapsed 
after its destruction by Joshua. 

Sisera] The famous Rabbi Akiba, who perished in the rebellion of 
Bar-Cochab in the reign of Hadrian, is said by Deans Stanley and 
Milman to have been descended from wSisera by a Jewish mother. See 
Milm., Hist, yews, III. 426 1 9 Stanley, Lectures on the Jewish Church. 

Harosheth of the Gentiles'] Or of the nations (cf. Gen. xiv. 1 ; J.osh. 
xii. 23). This expression has usually been taken to mean a collection 
of peoples of various nationalities fused into one state, like the kingdom 
of Mercia in early English history. But recent researches (see Sayce, 
Babylonian Literature, p. 23), have established the fact that a people 
called Gutium existed under their Turgal or great chief (the LXX. 
reads Thargal'm Gen. xiv. 1). Whether these people had a settlement 
in the Gilgal of Josh. xii. 23 (which must not be confounded with 
the places of that name already mentioned) cannot be ascertained. 
Harosheth is unknown, but Cassel and Berth eau imagine it to have 
been derived from some metal work industry [charash signifying a 
workman, especially an engraver). Recent investigation has shewn 
that in times much earlier than these, not only the Assyrians, but the 
Hittites, had much skill in this craft. 

3. chariots of iron] See Josh. xvii. 16, and note on ch. i. 19. 
mightily] Lit. with force. See 1 Sam. ii. 16. 

4. Deborah, a prophetess] Like Miriam, Exod. xv. 20, Huldah, 
2 Kings xxii. 14; 2 Chron. xxxiv. 22 ; and Noadiah, Neh. vi. 14. "She 
in some respects resembled Miriam, insomuch that she was a prophetess 
and sang the triumphant song of victory — but she greatly differed, in 
that she was a judge, which Miriam was not ; and again Miriam only 
took the lead in thanksgiving, whereas Deborah was herself the inspired 
leader and chief... From Huldah she entirely differed in another respect 
that Huldah was more of a priestly character and dwelling in the sacred 
college of the temple. Huldah the wife of Shallum spoke of repent- 
ance and humiliation before jGod ; Deborah of glory and victory before 

1 Jost, however, whom he cites {Geschichte der Israeliten, ft. 206) does not 
quote the Pirke Aboth with reference to R. Akiba, nor does he relate the tra- 
dition about Sisera. I am indebted to the Rev. Dr Schiller-Szinessy, Reader in 
Rabbinical Literature to the University, for the origin of this story. It appears 
first in the Liber Jochassin, a Lexicon of History and Biography compiled in 1504, 
but doubtfully (compare pp. 37 and 75). The error originated in a passage twice 
repeated in the Babylonian Talmud (Sanhedrin, 96 b, and Gittin, 57 b) to the effect 
that Sisera's descendants had taught the law in Jerusalem, and those of Hainan in 
B'ni B'rak. This last place was where R. Akiba also taught. 

vv. 5, 6.] . JUDGES, IV. 79 

doth, she judged Israel at that time. And she dwelt under 5 
the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Beth-el in 
mount Ephraim : and the children of Israel came up to her 
for judgment. And she sent and called Barak the son of 
Abinoam out of Kedesh-naphtali, and said unto him, Hath 

men." I. Williams, Female Characters of Holy Scripture. Strictly 
the Hebrew word, like the Latin vates and the Greek 7rpocpr}T7]s (see 
1 Cor. xiv.), signifies any one who speaks under a Divine influence 
(see also Exod. vii. 1, where it appears to mean anyone who is the 
mouthpiece of inspiration). We are not told, for instance, that Miriam 
foretold future events, but she evidently acted as the inspired leader of 
the women in the great choral ode of Exod. xv., as Deborah did in 
the similar one recorded in the next chapter. Deborah, however, pos- 
sessed the power of prescience. See v. 9. The name signifies a bee, 
Is. vii. 18. The masculine plural is found in ch. xiv. 8. The Chaldee 
paraphrast, who frequently introduces traditional matter, and who has 
largely added to Deborah's song (see notes on next chapter), tells us 
here how Deborah was a person of consideration, possessing palm-trees 
in Jericho, parks (lit. paradises) in Ramah, and productive olives in the 
valley (Bik'ath), a house of irrigation in Bethel, and white dust (was 
this the fertile soil produced by terracing the rock, or potter's earth, 
as Lightfoot, Centuria Chorographica, ch. 11?) in the king's mount. 

Lapidoth\ The word signifies lamps, or torches. See note, ch. 
vii. 16. As in French and German, so in Hebrew the word woman is 
also used for wife. Some have therefore rendered a woman of a fiery 
spirit, and the Rabbis have supposed that Barak (lightning) was her 
husband. With Barak we may compare Barcas, the cognomen of the 
Carthaginian Hamilcar, remembering that the Carthaginian and He- 
brew were cognate languages. 

judged] No doubt she made use of her inspired authority in deciding 
disputes. See note on ch. ii. 16. " Such a remarkable woman as this 
has a lesson to individual women in the Christian Church... Inspiration 
is not now confined to one, but it is poured forth on all in the Christian 
Church ; and there is no heroic action, great and good, but which 
women may be equal to from a like inspiration of faith. " I. Williams, 
Female Characters of Holy Scripture. 

5. Ramah] Now Er Ram, "upon a round hill five miles east of 
Gibeon/' Tristram, Bible Places, p. 116. He adds "a little to the 
north of it, in the deep hot valley * between Ramah and Beth-el,' was 
the palm tree of Deborah, where Rebekah's nurse was buried," Gen. 
xxxv. 8. No doubt the name was the cause of the selection of the place 
by this second Deborah. 

Beth-el} See note on ch. i. 22. 

6. Kedesh-naphtali] Now Kedes, about five miles north-west of 
Lake Huleh. "It partakes of the general character of the cities of 
this region — standing on rocky spurs or ridges, above green peaceful 
basins." Stanley, Sinai and Palestine, p. 382. "It is full of interest- 

80 JUDGES, IV. [v. 6. 

not the Lord God of Israel commanded, saying. Go and 
draw toward mount Tabor, and take with thee ten thousand 
men of the children of Naphtali and of the children of 

ing ruins. There are fine old tombs, double sarcophagi, placed, not 
in cases, but on pedestals of marble masonry, remains also of many 
ancient buildings, 'but especially of one very large building of which 
the eastern front and part of the other walls is still perfect." Tristram, 
Bible Places, p. 276. This building however appears to have been a 
synagogue of late date. We hear of Kedesh as Cades in the time of 
the Maccabees (1 Mace. xi. 63 — 73). 

draw toward} The word in the Hebrew is here used in a sense some- 
what unusual (but see ch. xx. 37). It has been variously explained. 
The LXX. and other versions escape the difficulty ; the former by 
omitting the passage altogether, the others by a paraphrase. As it 
stands in our version, it means, (1) make thy way gradually (see 
ch. xx. 37), to Mount Tabor. But the preposition that follows is 
not unto, but in. Therefore (2) it has been supposed that like 
Exod. xix. 13; Josh. vi. 5, it means make a long drawn sound with the 
trumpet. The objection to this is that in that case " with the trumpet " 
would have been added. Then (3) it has been suggested that it means 
"draw towards thee companies of troops one by one." But the objec- 
tion to this is that in "drawing" in Mount Tabor Barak is to take 
10,000 men with him. The Chaldee renders (4) "spread out in Mount 
Tabor." The best explanation would seem to be (5) that Barak was 
to lead his troops gradually along in the region of Mount Tabor, until 
Jehovah had led Sisera (the word is the same in each case) unto the 
brook Kishon. Render, draw out upon Mount Tabor. Barak was to 
protect his scanty band in the mountain district until the moment had 
arrived to swoop down upon his enemy upon the plain. The word 
"draw," connected with "take" is applied to the lamb in Exod. xii. 21, 
probably as referring to the leading the lamb gently out of the flock. 
The same word is used of sowing seed in Amos ix. 13 (cf. Ps. exxvi. 6), 
no doubt as referring to the gradual progress of the sower along the 

mount Tabor] This cone-shaped mountain is remarkable rather 
from its situation than its height. It is about 1700 feet above the level 
of the sea, but rising as it does in the midst of the great plain of Jezreel 
or Esdraelon (see note on ch. vi. 33), it is a conspicuous object from 
all sides. It was long supposed to have been the scene of the Trans- 
figuration. But Ritter has disposed of this idea by shewing that 
from the time of Antiochus the Great (218 B.C.) down to the destruc- 
tion of Jerusalem, it was a fortress. Josephus, moreover, repaired this 
fortress {De Bell, Jud. 1. 13). Ritter also detects the period when the 
tradition arose. Cyril of Jerusalem and Jerome (a. d. 332 — 422) men- 
tion it. Eusebius, who died about A. D. 340, knows nothing of it. See 
also Robinson, Bibl. Res., ill. 350 — 360. 

children of Naphtali and of the children of Zebulun] It is evident 
that already a great want of concert had begun to shew itself among the 

w. 7— 9-1 JUDGES, IV. Si 

Zebulun ? And I will draw unto thee to the river Kishon 
Sisera, the captain of Jabin's army, with his chariots and his 
multitude ; and I will deliver him into thine hand. And ; 
Barak said unto her, If thou wilt go with me, then I will go : 
but if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go. And , 
she said, I will surely go with thee : notwithstanding the 
journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honour ; for 

children of Israel. In ch. v. 14 — 18 we find that though some of the 
tribes gave their assistance, complaints were made of the inactivity of 
others who were dwelling near the scene of action. From Josh. xix. 
12, 22, 34, we find that Zebulun, Issachar and Naphtali were the three 
tribes bordering on Tabor. From ch. v. 15 we find that the chief men 
of Issachar were present at the battle. As in the case of the English 
people before the battle of Hastings, though from different causes, the 
wars of Israel during the time of the judges would appear to have had 
merely a local interest ; the national feeling, which in the former case 
had never really existed, in the latter had grown cold. Porter, Giant 
cities of Bashan, p. 260, thinks that as the chief strength of Israel was 
in the hills, the position of Naphtali, cut off from intercourse with the 
other tribes by the great " valley of Jezreel," led, with this single ex- 
ception, to timidity and irresolution. See also ch. i. 33. 

7. the river Kishon] Properly the winter torrent, or its bed 
(xeifMappoos LXX. ; cf. the brook Kedron, St John xviii. 1). The bed 
in many cases was dry in the summer, but a rushing stream poured 
down it in the winter. The Kishon, which took its rise near Mounts 
Tabor and Gilboa, flows in a northwesterly direction through the plain 
of Jezreel and empties itself into the Mediterranean at the foot of Mount 
Carmel. Cf. 1 Kings xviii. 40 ; Ps. lxxxiii. 9. 

multitude} The original is very expressive of the mixed host which 
constituted Sisera's army. The word suggests the hum or tumult made 
by so vast a host. 

8. And Barak said] The character of Barak, though pious, does 
not seem to have been heroic. Like Gideon, and in a sense Samson, 
he is an illustration of the words in Heb. xi. 34 : "Out of weakness 
were made strong." (See Vaughan, Heroes of Faith, Lect. xv.) He 
was possibly tinged with a little of the same superstition which displays 
itself in the taking the ark with Israel into the battlefield (1 Sam. iv. 
3 — 5). He could not be satisfied with a mission from God by the 
mouth of a divinely accredited messenger. He needed some visible 
presence to assure him of the invisible strength on which he had to 
depend. Therefore, though God's favour was not altogether with- 
drawn from him, he yet lacked the high honour to which other of 
Israel's heroes attained. See however Exod. iv. 10 — 14. The LXX. 
adds here "because I know not the day in which the Lord will prosper 
His angel with me." 

9. for thine honour] " Thy advantage shall not be unto the way 

judges 6 

JUDGES, IV. [vv. 10—14. 

the Lord shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman. And 

10 Deborah arose, and went with Barak to Kedesh. And 
Barak called Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh; and he went 
up with ten thousand men at his feet : and Deborah went 

11 up with him. Now Heber the Kenite, which was of the 
children of Hobab the father in law of Moses, had severed 
himself from the Kenites, and pitched his tent unto the 

15 plain of Zaanaim, which is by Kedesh. And they shewed 
Sisera that Barak the son of Abinoam was gone up to mount 

J 3 Tabor. And Sisera gathered together all his chariots, even 
nine hundred chariots of iron, and all the people that were 
with him, from Harosheth of the Gentiles unto the river of 

m Kishon. And Deborah said unto Barak, Up; for this is the 

which thou goest." LXX. M On this occasion the victory will not be 
reputed to thee." Vulg. 

shall sell] See note on ch. ii. 14. 

10. at his feet] So most commentators. See Exod. xi. 8. But 
some prefer on foot. See v. 15. We may either translate (1) as A. V., 
or (2) and there went up at his feet (or on foot) ten thousand men, 
or (3) and he went up on foot, ten thousand men, i.e. his whole force 
amounted to 10,000 infantry, a contrast being intended between his 
small and scantily equipped force and the vast host of Sisera with his 
dreaded chariots of iron. The latter is the preferable rendering. 

11. the father in law] Here, brother-in-law. See Numb. x. 29. 
It means any near connection by marriage. The same word occurs in 
Arabic in the same senses. 

had severed himself] See ch. i. 16. 

plain of Zaanaim] Rather, the oak in Zaanaim. The Ken has 
Zaanannim as in Josh. xix. 33. The proper translation there is from 
the oak in Zaanannim. The LXX., Targum, and Jerusalem Talmud, 
however, translate the oak of Bitzanaim (or spoilers, according to the 
LXX.), taking the Hebrew b' (in) as part of the name. 

12. to mount Tabor] This may be the meaning of the original, but 
it literally means had ascended Mount Tabor, and the probability is (see 
note on v. 6) that Barak, for security's sake, had gone up into the 
mountain district, where Sisera would be unable to follow him with his 
chariots. Cf. "went down" in v. 14. 

13. gathered together] The word is the same as that employed in 
v. 10, where it is rendered called. It seems (as margin) to mean to 
assemble by proclamation. 

14. And Deborah said] We may almost trace the decadence of 
Israel in this history. No high-priest, with the sacred Urim and 
Thummim stands before God's altar to ask His will, as in Joshua's 
days, or even those of Phinehas. See ch. xx. The sacred fire is no 

vv. 15-18.] JUDGES, IV. 83 

day in which the Lord hath delivered Sisera into thine 
hand : is not the Lord gone out before thee ? So Barak 
went down from mount Tabor, and ten thousand men after 
him. And the Lord discomfited Sisera, and all his chariots, 15 
and all his host, with the edge of the sword before Barak ; 
so that Sisera lighted down off his chariot, and fled away on 
his feet. But Barak pursued after the chariots, and after x6 
the host, unto Harosheth of the Gentiles: and all the host 
of Sisera fell upon the edge of the sword ; and there was not 
a man left. Howbeit Sisera fled away on his feet to the 17 
tent of Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite : for there was 
peace between Jabin the king of Hazor and the house 
of Heber the Kenite. And Jael went out to meet Sisera, 18 
and said unto him, Turn in, my lord, turn in to me; fear 

longer to be found in official quarters ; it descends wherever an heart 
can be found capable of receiving it. 

15. discomfited] This word gives scarcely an adequate idea of the 
sudden terror and confusion into which Sisera's host fell at the unex- 
pected onslaught of Barak. The word is the same as that used in 
Exod. xiv. 24, and Josh. x. 10, and is cognate with the word trans- 
lated multitude in v. 7. The English word, derived from the Mediaeval 
Latin disconfigere, to unfasten, unloose, means to part asunder, as a 
victorious general does his routed foes. Josephus states that a hail- 
storm came on, which unstrung the bows and slings of the Canaanites, 
and benumbed them with cold. This was the last stand made by the 
Canaanites against Israelite supremacy. 

on his feet] See v. 10, where the Hebrew is the same as here. 

16. not a man] Hebrew, as margin not unto one. 

17. yael] The reason for Sisera betaking himself to Jael's tent is 
suggested by Bertheau, in his commentary. It was because the manners 
of the east, then as now, did not allow strange men to enter a woman's 
tent. Hence, if permitted, in his urgent need, to enter, he was safe 
from Barak's pursuit. In that of Heber, who was on friendly terms 
with Jabin, he might not have been secure. But he evidently thinks 
{v. 20) that the extremity of his need might give rise to a suspicion that 
he might have sought shelter in a woman's abode. He therefore instructs 
Jael what answer to give. 

18. Turn in, my lord] The disgraceful treachery of Jael has been 
thought to be palliated by the sacred historian, and it has been sup- 
posed that Christians were bound to defend it. No such necessity is 
laid upon us. The act was utterly indefensible, and was rendered more 
completely so because it is an Eastern custom, and no doubt was so in 
the days of Jael — a custom which scarcely the most treacherous and 
unprincipled Arab ever fails to observe — that any one who has par- 
taken food under a man's roof is safe from molestation, at least as long 


8 4 JUDGES, IV. [vv. 19—21. 

not. And when he had turned in unto her into the tent, she 

19 covered him with a mantle. And he said unto her, Give 
me, I pray thee, a little water to drink; for I am thirsty. 
And she opened a bottle of milk, and gave him drink, and 

20 covered him. Again he said unto her, Stand in the door of 
the tent, and it shall be, when any man doth come and 
inquire of thee, and say, Is there any man here ? that thou 

21 shalt say, No. Then Jael Heber's wife took a nail of the 

as that roof shelters him. See note on ch. v. 24. And compare the 
scene in ch. xxviii. of Sir W. Scott's Talisman, where Saladin is made 
to say "Had he murdered my father, and afterwards partaken of my 
food and my bowl, not a hair of his head could have been injured by 
me." A similar story is told in Gibbon's Decline and Fall, ch. lix. 

a 7nantle~\ Rather, the rug". This word occurs nowhere else in the 
Scriptures. Its meaning is not certain. The Greek versions render 
by hide, and a kindred word is found in Syriac and also Arabic with 
that meaning. Gesenius renders by mattrass, and as there is a kindred 
Syriac word signifying bed, it was doubtless the rug stretched on the 
ground on which Jael slept, it being the Oriental custom to sleep on 
mats or rugs stretched on the ground. See Tristram, Land of Israel, 

P- 39°- 

19. a bottle] Rather, the bottle. It was no doubt made of skins, 
as the ancient bottles frequently were. See Ps. cxix. 83, also Smith's 
Dictionary of the Bible, Art. Bottle, and of Greek and Roman Anti- 
quities, Art. Vinam. They were used for wine (Josh. ix. 4, 13; 1 Sam. 
xvi. 20), and are still to be seen used for that purpose in Italy and 
Greece. The word means either (r) that which gives forth fluid, or 
(2) that which is shaken, the operation of churning being frequently 
carried on by shaking the cream in a bottle. 

??iilk~\ Soar milk, according to Josephus, who hints that Jael in- 
tended to display her unfriendliness by this act. But this is most 
improbable, since Sisera's suspicions were clearly not aroused. Rabbi 
Tanchum supposes the milk to have been fermented, and Sisera to have 
been intoxicated by the draught. This is possible, for to this day the 
Arabs drink a sort of fermented milk, known by the name of Koumiss, 
which has intoxicating properties. But it is not necessary to account 
for Sisera's unconsciousness, which the history clearly attributes to 
weariness. The milk may have been in a bottle either (1) because it 
was fermented, or (2) in preparation for churning. But it is called curds 
in ch. v. 25. See note there. 

21. a nail of the tent] Rather, the tent pin or peg, i.e. the nail or 
peg with which the tent was fastened. This may have been of iron, 
as the expression is used of a nail driven into a wall (Is. xxii. 23, 25), 
or of some hard wood, since Ezekiel (ch. xv. 3) especially excepts the 
vine from the species of wood used for this purpose. See also note on 
ch. xvi. 14. 

took] Rather, as margin, put. 

w. 22— 24; i.] JUDGES, V. 85 

tent, and took a hammer in her hand, and went softly unto 
him, and smote the nail into his temples, and fastened it 
into the ground : for he was fast asleep and weary. So he 
died. And behold, as Barak pursued Sisera, Jael came out 22 
to meet him, and said unto him, Come, and I will shew thee 
the man whom thou seekest. And when he came into her 
tent, behold, Sisera lay dead, and the nail was in his tem- 
ples. So God subdued on that day Jabin the king of Ca- 23 
naan before the children of Israel. And the hand of the 24 
children of Israel prospered, and prevailed against Jabin the 
king of Canaan, until they had destroyed Jabin king of 

Ch. V. 1 — 31. The triumph song of Deborah. 

Then sang Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam on 5 
that day, saying, 

a hammer] Lit. the hammer (Makab, see below) ; no doubt that 
which was used for driving the tent peg into the ground. Jael, "her 
attitude, her weapon, her deed, are fixed in the national mind... the 
Hammer of her country's enemies." Stanley, Jewish Church, I. 326. 
He cites the names of Judas Maccabeus, and Charles Martel. 

fastened it] The word is only used here, and in the narrative of Achsah, 
ch. i. 14. In the latter passage it is used intransitively. Here it is 
impossible to say whether it is so or no. It may either be translated 
(1) "she struck it into the ground" (there is, however, no "it" in the 
original), or (2) "it sank into the ground." The LXX. renders, "it 
passed through." Whether the verb is to be understood of gradual or 
rapid motion it is impossible to say. But it cannot be rendered, as in 
the A. V. and some of the ancient versions, " fastened." 

fast asleep] A cognate word is used in Gen. ii. 21 of the deep sleep 
which fell upon Adam at the creation of Eve. See also Dan. viii. 18, 
x. 9. 

So he died] Rather, and he died. 

23. subdued] Lit. bowed, as in ch. iii. 30. 

24. prospered, and prevailed] Lit. went to go and was hard. See 
for hard, ch. ii. 19. The meaning is went on continually being hard, 
as in Gen. viii. 3, of the abatement of the waters of the flood. 

Ch. V. 1 — 31. The triumph song of Deborah. 

1. Then sang Deborah] This song is, as Bertheau remarks, "the 
fresh and powerful expression of the joyous excitement" into which 
Israel had been thrown by the recent victory, a victory, he adds, which 
gained additional significance from the down-trodden condition of Israel 

JUDGES, V. [vv. 2, 3. 

Praise ye the Lord for the avenging of Israel, 
When the people willingly offered themselves. 
Hear, O ye kings; give ear, O ye princes; 
I, even I, will sing unto the Lord ; 
I will sing praise to the Lord God of Israel. 

previously. He shews that it divides itself naturally into three divisions, 
of nine verses each, exclusive of v. 2, which constitutes the opening, of 
v. 12, which forms an introduction to the second portion, in the form of 
an address to the heroes of the day, and v. 31, which forms the con- 
clusion. Each of these divisions of nine verses may be subdivided 
into three divisions of three verses each. Such a numerical coincidence 
can hardly, he says, be accidental. But, as Keil observes, the " three 
leading sections are divided into three sonieivhat unequal strophes." 

2. Praise ye the Lord] This forms the introductory stanza, calling 
upon Israel to praise God for the victory granted to their patriotic 
readiness. These words come last in the original, where they are more 

for the avenging of Israel] Lit. in the breaking forth of the breakers 
in Israel. Render, for that the leaders took the lead. So the 
Alexandrian MS. of the LXX. and some of the best modern interpreters, 
such as Bertheau and Gesenius. From the idea of breaking forth 
comes that of beginning, and hence comes the idea of leading. See 
Deut. xxxii. 42, where the LXX. and the modern commentators 
would render "from the head of the leaders of the enemy." The 
parallelism is better preserved in this rendering than in any other. 
The alacrity of the leaders corresponds to the reciprocal willingness of 
the people. Other interpretations are (1) " that the strong (literally the 
word is supposed to be hairy) in Israel shewed themselves strong," (2) 
"that the hair wildly waved in Israel," (3) that of the Syriac "in the 
vengeance with which Israel was avenged," (4) the Vatican MS. of the 
LXX. has "the revelation was revealed in Israel," i.e. by reason of the 
willingness of the people, there was a revelation of their true mind. 

willingly offered themselves] As we say, they volunteered. 

3. Hear, O ye kings] This and the two following verses celebrate 
the glorious deeds of Jehovah, who has once more shewn favour to his 

princes] The word is an uncommon one, and occurs first here. It 
means any persons of great consideration. Jonathan adds in the 
Targum " not by your own valour, and not by your own might did ye 
prevail and go up against the house of Israel." See note on v. 5. 

the Lord] It is to be remembered (see note, ch. i. 1) that the original 
is Jehovah. The literal translation is / to Jehovah, I (emphatic) will 
sing, I will sing praise to Jehovah, God of Israel. 

sing praise] The meaning of the original is to sing to an instrument. 
Cf. Exod. xv. 2. The word is onomatopceetic, and denotes the buzz of 
the chords of a stringed instrument. 

vv. 4—6.] JUDGES, V. 87 

Lord, when thou wentest out of Seir, 

When thou marchedst out of the field of Edom, 

The earth trembled, and the heavens dropped, 

The clouds also dropped water. 

The mountains melted from before the Lord, 

Even that Sinai from before the Lord God of Israel. 

In the days of Shamgar the son of Anath, < 

4. out of Seir] Cf. Deut. xxxiii. 2. The idea is clearly, as Dr 
Cassel interprets, that from the time when the forty years' sojourn in the 
desert came to an end, and Israel compassed Edom in that final march 
(Numb. xx. 22, xxi. 4) which never ended until they possessed the 
promised land, the history of Israel as a nation commenced. The great 
processional Psalm, Ps. lxviii., embodies this passage, as this is moulded 
upon the opening strain of the song of Moses in Deut. xxxiii. 

marchedsi\ This is the best equivalent of the original, which signifies 
slow and dignified movement. 

the earth trembled'] "The superior grandeur of Scriptural over the 
noblest Hellenic conceptions is scarcely anywhere more clearly apparent. 
The earthquake, with Hesiod and others, is symbolic of conflict between 
the powers above and the powers below, between Zeus and Typhon. 

1 Great Olympus trembled beneath the immortal feet 
Of the Ruler rising up, and hollow groaned the earth 

The earth resounded and the heavens around, and the floods 
of ocean.' " 

Hesiod. Theogon. v. 840, &c. 

To the prophetic spirit of Deborah the earthquake becomes a powerful 
symbol, but it is the symbol of the creature's humility and awe on 
account of the sacred nearness of God." Dr Cassel. 

5. melted] Or (as margin) flowed. This is a possible rendering, 
but many modern translators (following the LXX.), prefer shook, the 
translation of a verb similar in its inflexion to that rendered melted. 
The 68th Psalm, in quoting this passage, leaves out the allusion to the 
mountains, and it is uncertain whether we are to supply shook or 
dropped with "this Sinai." But the former is more probable. Jona- 
than here, paraphrasing the 68th Psalm, represents Tabor, Hermon and 
Carmel as each advancing their claims to be the dwelling-place of God's 
majesty, and the decision as being made in favour of Sinai. Like 
Hannah's song (see 1st Samuel in this series, Appendix III.), the song 
of Deborah is largely interpolated in the Targum. 

that Sinai] Rather this Sinai, i. e. the Sinai which hung over them 
as they commenced their march. Cf. " this Lebanon" (Josh. i. 4) so 
called because it was visible. 

6. In the days of Shamgar] Here a new subject is introduced— the 

83 JUDGES, V. [vv. 7,%. 

In the days of Jael, the highways were unoccupied, 

And the travellers walked through byways. 

TJie inhabitants of the villages ceased, they ceased in 

Until that I Deborah arose, 
That I arose a mother in Israel. 
They chose new gods ; 
Then was war in the gates : 

down-trodden condition of Israel before the battle. It is continued till 
the end of v. 8. Shamgar's was probably only a local deliverance. 

in the days of Jael] Some have supposed, since Jael was one of 
Israel's deliverers, that another Jael is here meant. But no doubt the 
explanation of the mention of her name here is that though personally 
at peace with Jabin, her sympathies were with the oppressed Israelites, 
and that she had witnessed their wrongs with a fierce indignation which 
culminated in the murder of Sisera. Thus she may have come to be 
regarded by Israel as Charlotte Corday is regarded by many. 

highways] The word highway means originally a road 7'aised above 
the surrounding country. The Hebrew here, however, has not this 
meaning, for which another word is used. See v. 20, note. The 
expression which occurs here signifies the ordinary roads by which 
travellers went were unoccupied. This may be translated "the cara- 
vans ceased." 

traveller s] Lit. those who walked beaten paths. Thus our transla- 
tion gives the sense exactly. The expression occurs here for the first 

byways'] Lit. winding or twisted roads. This expression occurs 
only here and in Ps. cxxv. 5. The A. V. has given the true meaning. 

7. The inhabitants of the villages ceased] The word translated cease 
here is the same as that rendered were unoccupied in the last verse. The 
verb has no nominative, and some words like those supplied in our 
version must be added. The word translated villages, Perazon, is con- 
nected with Perizzite (see ch. i. 4, note) and means habitations in the 
open country. But some copies of the LXX. render the mighty men, the 
rulers {fortes, Vulg.), and this is preferred by some expositors, the 
root meaning to spread out and thence to separate, the word Pharisee 
being derived from a kindred root. Luther renders by peasants. The 
ancient and modern versions in truth give every variety of rendering. 
Thus the French (Protestant) Version has " les chefs manquaient." 
And this is the case throughout the poem. For a word of similar 
derivation in the sense of open country, see Ezek. xxxviii. 11, Zech. ii. 4 
(8, Heb.), and Esther ix. 19. Habak. iii. 14 is disputed. 

8. They chose new gods] i. e. Israel. Seech, ii. 11, 13. The rest of 
the verse states the result of this evil choice. The Vulgate, Syriac and 
others render God chose new things, or wars. See Appendix I. The 
A. V. is preferable, since the "war in the gates" is clearly connected 
with the distress of Israel. 

vv. 9— ii.] JUDGES, V. 89 

Was there a shield or spear seen 
Among forty thousand in Israel ? 

My heart is toward the governors of Israel, 9 

That offered themselves willingly among the people. 
Bless ye the Lord. 

Speak, ye that ride on white asses, 1 

Ye that sit in judgment, 
And walk by the way. 

They that are delivered from the noise of archers in the 1 
places of drawing water, 

was there a shield~\ This cannot mean that the Israelites had no 
weapons (as in 1 Sam. xiii. 22), for if so, the battle of Mount Tabor 
could not have been fought. It means that such was their condition of 
servitude, that they dared not display them. 

spear] Three kinds of spear are mentioned in the O. T. The first, 
the chidon, was a long slender lance. The second, the hanith, was a 
javelin which could be thrown (1 Sam. xviii. 11, xx. 33). The third, 
the romach, which is mentioned here, appears to have been a heavier 

9. My heart] Here we return to the idea of v. 2, the willingness of 
the leaders in Israel, the whole section concluding with a picture of 
enfranchised Israel returning continual thanks for their deliverance. 

governors] This word is derived from hok, a statute prescribed by 

10. Speak] Or, sing, as in Ps. cxlv. 5. 

white asses] The Vulgate has niteutes, "sleek," "glossy." TheLXX. 
render by noonday, and Luther by beautiful. Jahn (Archaeologia 
Biblica) suggests that the asses might have been painted, and states that 
this was an Eastern custom. The horse was at present little used by 
the Israelites, though in the days of the kings they became common. A 
breed peculiar to the East, of asses either white or spotted with white 
(white tinted with red according to Gesenius and Bertheau), was the 
mark, in those days, of persons of distinction. The word occurs here 

in judgment] Rather, with most modern interpreters (the ancients 
rendering as A, V.), on mats or carpets (literally anything stretching 
out), the later Aramaic plural in -in being substituted here for the 
more ordinary one in -im. See note on ch. iii. 16, on the word raiment. 

11. They that are delivered] These words are added to fill up a blank 
which must be supplied in some way or other. Luther renders, "there 
cry the sharpshooters." Others would fill up by rises the song of praise, 
i.e. from the voice of the archers. The LXX. renders "the voice of those 
who stay behind in the midst of the drawers of water." The Vulgate 
has " ubi collisi sunt currus." The Chaldee here again largely inter- 
polates the original. Wiclifs translation, following the Vulgate, is 
striking "where the chaaris ben hurtlid." We may either translate (1) 

90 JUDGES, V. [vv. 12, 13. 

There shall they rehearse the righteous acts of the Lord, 
Even the righteous acts towards the inhabitants of his 

villages in Israel : 
Then shall the people of the Lord go down to the gates. 
Awake, awake, Deborah : 
Awake, awake, utter a song : 
Arise, Barak, 

And lead thy captivity captive, thou son of Abinoam. 
Then he made him that remaineth have dominion over 

the nobles among the people: 

"Far from the noise of archers, between the drawers of water," or (2) 
"Because of the noise of the archers... there they rehearse," or (3), "re- 
turned from the noise of the archers, " &c. 

noise] Lit. voice, 

archers] Some prefer those who divide, i. e. the spoil. But the text 
is more vivid. The archers return from the battle, and relate the events 
of the day to their more peaceful brethren, who have remained at home 
to discharge their pastoral duties. 

shall they rehearse] Or, perhaps, they rehearse. 

righteous acts] Heb., as margin, righteousnesses. 

villages] See note on v. 7. Here the translation rule or guidance 
would suit the grammar of the passage best. But the grammar of 
poetical Hebrew is often obscure. And the translation the righteous- 
nesses of his open country, i. e. the righteous acts of God to those scattered 
about in it, is at least admissible. The LXX. renders "righteous men 
were strong in Israel," in spite of the fact that the word rendered 
* ' righteous men " is feminine, and has been rendered thus in the earlier 
part of the verse. The Chaldee renders here as in v. 7, "cities of 
villages," i.e. unwalled cities, as Buxtorf renders. 

shall the people of the Lord go down] Rather, they went down. So 
LXX., Vulg., Luther. 

12. Awake] Here we commence a new division of the song. The 
attention of the hearer is re-awakened by this lively appeal to Deborah 
and Barak. 

captivity] The abstract for the concrete, captivity for those led into 
captivity. This is one of the expressions from this song made use of in 
Ps. lxviii. See notes on vv. 4, 5. 

13. Then he made] The next three verses contain a description of 
Barak's followers. The rendering of the A. V. takes the verb as transi- 
tive, from a root meaning to rule. But it may be intransitive, from a 
root meaning to go down; — then came down a remnant to the mighty 
ones — the people. This makes better sense, and is supported by the 
Alexandrian codex of the LXX, as well as the Targum. Keil's expla- 
nation seems quite satisfactory, that mighty men came down to the 
fight, yet they were but a remnant, compared to what had been. But 

v. 14-1 JUDGES, V. 91 

The Lord made me have dominion over the mighty. 

Out of Ephraim was there a root of them against h 

Amalek ; 
After thee, Benjamin, among thy people ; 
Out of Machir came down governors, 

the fact that the word rendered mighty ones is not in the construct 
state, and therefore the noun following cannot be in dependence on 
it, has caused Dr Cassel to alter the Masoretic pointing, and to 
render "down rushed a remnant against the robust; the people 
of Jehovah rushed down with me against the powerful." The objec- 
tion to this rendering is that it translates /' (to), against in the first 
member, and with in the second member, of the parallelism. There 
is no objection beyond the Masoretic pointing to the rendering Then 
came dozvn a remnant to the mighty ; the people of Jehovah came down 
to me with (or against) the valiant. 

mighty] The original idea in the word thus translated is that of 
strength. See Gen. vi. 4. 

14. Out of Ephraim was there a root of them against Amalek] 
Literally, From Ephraim their root in Amalek,, i.e. From Ephraim 
came those whose root is in Amalek. The meaning is that a de- 
tachment came from that part of Ephraim in which the Amalekites 
formerly dwelt. See ch. xii. 15. The word root refers to the firm 
footing Ephraim had acquired in Amalek's former dwelling. Bertheau 
refers to Ps. lxxx. 9, and Is. xxvii. 6 for this sense. And we know 
from Josh. xvii. 15 — 18, that the mountain country was the region of 
which the Ephraimites first took possession. Jonathan refers here to 
Joshua as an Ephraimite and Saul as a Benjamite, and to both as 
having warred against Amalek. The LXX. has " Ephraim rooted them 
out in Amalek," and Wiclif, following the Vulgate, translates hath doone 
hem a wey into Amalek. 

after thee, Benjamin, among thy people] As this is punctuated in the 
A.V. no intelligible meaning can be obtained from it. But regard it as 
an address to Ephraim, and all becomes clear. "After thee came Benja- 
min, among thy people," Benjamin being the next tribe to Ephraim in 
a southerly direction, and being much intermingled with Ephraim. See 
note on ch. i. 22. Also Ps. lxviii. 27. No doubt some of the most 
warlike Benjamites responded to Barak's summons, though the number 
was evidently very few. We should not fail to remark how this fits in 
with the history in ch. xx., xxi. 

Machir] Machir was apparently the only son of Manasseh, cf. 1 
Chron. vii. 14, 15, with Numb. xxvi. 29 — 33 ; Josh. xiii. 31, and xvii. 
1, 2. Whether these Manassites came from Gilead or from the western 
side of Jordan, cannot be decided, but though some commentators take 
the former view, a comparison of the song with the map makes the latter 
infinitely more probable. And it is, moreover, confirmed by the distinct 
statement of v. 17. 

governors] See note on v. 9. 

92 JUDGES, V. [vv. 15, 16. 

And out of Zebulun they that handle the pen of the 
: And the princes of Issachar were with Deborah ; 
Even Issachar, and also Barak : 
He was sent on foot into the valley. 

For the divisions of Reuben there were great thoughts of 
i Why abodest thou among the sheepfolds, 

handle the pen of the writer] Or, those who handle the rod of the scribe, 
or the marshal's staff. The word drazv is the same as that discussed 
in ch. iv. 6, 7. The word translated pen is the same as that rendered 
tribe elsewhere (see note on ch. ii. 16). The scribe — see 2 Kings xxv. 
19 — was probably a military officer, who compared with his list the 
men who came in answer to the summons, and then marshalled them 
in procession before the general with his rod of office in his hand. This 
is the drift of the Vulgate paraphrase. Other interpretations are (1) 
"skilful with the accountant's pencil" (Cassel); (2) "who lead on at 
the head of long extending processions" (Bertheau); (3) "sind 
Regierer geworden durch die Schreibfeder" (Luther). 

15. the princes of Issachar] i • Dukis of Ysachar, " Wiclif. The 
original is more indefinite, princes in Issachar. This gives more point 
to the triumphant outburst in v. 18. On Zebulun and Naphtali rested 
the brunt of the battle. The Masorites read " my princes," but they are 
not supported by any of the ancient versions. 

even Issachar, and also Barak] Lit. as Issachar ; so Barak, i.e. 
Barak was there as well as, or on an equality with — as regards martial 
renown — the princes of Issachar. 

he was sent on foot into the valley] Lit., in the valley was he 
sent on his feet. Perhaps, into the valley were they sent at his feet. 
For valley, see ch. i. 34. It was evidently the valley (Emek) of 
Jezreel. For on his feet see ch. iv. 10, 17. Bertheau thinks that an 
irrepressible enthusiasm is here hinted at in the verb. But there 
seems no reason to suppose so. 

For the divisions of Reitben there were great thoughts of heart] The 
word translated for is literally in. The word translated divisions 
(Peleg, see Gen. x. 25) is undoubtedly derived from a root signifying to 
divide; but whether mental divisions (" diviso contra se Ruben," Vulg. 
— the Chaldee specifies the discussions as taking place between the ad- 
vocates of Barak and of Sisera), or territorial divisions (as LXX. ) is not 
so clear. Other interpretations are (1) brooks (Keil, Cassel); (2) fami- 
lies (Bertheau). The word is translated brooks in Ps. i. 3. The 
meaning is that beside the brooks of Reuben great resolutions were 
made, the word translated thoughts being akin to that rendered 
governors in vv. 9, 14. The LXX. renders it by exactnesses. 

16. Why abodest thou] These resolutions were formed, but not acted 
upon. So the last portion of v. 1 5, with this and the succeeding verse, 

w. 17, 1 3.] JUDGES, V. 93 

To hear the bleatings of the flocks ? 

For the divisions of Reuben there were great searchings of 

Gilead abode beyond Jordan : 17 

And why did Dan remain in ships ? 
Asher continued on the sea shore, 
And abode in his breaches. 
Zebulun and Naphtali were a people that jeoparded their 18 

lives unto the death 
In the high places of the field. 

refer to those who did not come to the help of Israel, concluding in 
v. 18 with the praise of Zebulun and Naphtali. The pastoral character 
of the tribe of Reuben is mentioned in Numb, xxxii. 1. Hence the 
appositeness of the allusion. 

sheepfolds] The dual form shews that these folds were divided into 
two parts. The LXX. leaves the word untranslated. 

bleatings of] Rather, pipings for (sibilos, Vulg.). The word is akin 
to the Greek and Latin syrinx, the instrument with which the shepherd 
called his flock, or played while he watched it. See Art. Syrinx in 
Smith's Dictionary of Antiquities. 

For] The Hebrew this time is at. 

searchings] The repetition of the phrase in this altered form has a 
touch of sarcasm in it. Great were the resolves of Reuben, but they did 
not pass into action. They were searchings of heart, discussions of 
plans and no more. The word does not mean what searchings of 
heart does among ourselves, namely, a careful examination of the life 
and conscience, but simply discussing of plans, endeavours to find out 
the best course of action. 

17. remain] Lit. sojourn, 
continued] Rather, dwelt. 

breaches] Rather, creeks. The word only occurs here. It means 
the places where the sea breaks in upon the land. It is kindred with 
Perez (2 Sam. vi. 8) and Pharez (Gen. xxxviii. 29). The tribe of Asher 
was upon the coast, and Joppa most probably belonged to Dan. See 
Josh. xix. 46. For some reason or other Judah and Simeon are not 
named. It can hardly be that the jealousy of the pre-eminence of 
Judah had reached the pitch which it afterwards did (2 Sam. xix. 43). 
Possibly Judah and Simeon, being border tribes, had to fight for life 
and freedom against the Philistines, Moabites and Edomites, and might 
well therefore be excused the conflict with the northern oppressor. See 
Introduction, Ch. II. 

18. jeoparded] The literal translation is as the margin, caused to 
reproach (as the LXX.), evidently with the idea involved in our phrase 
" contempt of life." The word jeoparded is derived either from jeu perdu 
or jeu parti, game lost, or game equally divided. The latter approaches 
most nearly to the sense of hazard or danger ; and Chaucer spells it 

94 JUDGES, V. [w. 19—22. 

> The kings came and fought, 
Then fought the kings of Canaan 

In Taanach by the waters of Megiddo ; 
They took no gain of money. 

> They fought from heaven ; 

The stars in their courses fought against Sisera. 
The river of Kishon swept them away, 
That ancient river, the river Kishon. 
O my soul, thou hast trodden down strength. 
1 Then were the horsehoofs broken by the means of the 
The pransings of their mighty ones. 

jupartie, which seems to decide the point. Here, as in the word people, 
o has replaced the French u in the spelling of the word. The parallelism 
of the original is lost in the A.V. It runs thus: "Zebulun is a people 
who despised their lives unto death ; and Naphtali upon the heights of 
the field." 

19. The kings came] Rather, kings came. Here we enter upon a 
new subject, the gathering together of the enemy and their defeat. It 
ends with v. 12. 

gain of money] Lit. spoil of silver. 

20. courses] Lit. highways; the Hebrew word signifying a raised 
path, like the paved portion of the roads in Belgium. See note on v. 6. 

21. swept] The word only occurs here, and seems to come from the 
same root as our words grip, gripe. 

ancient river] Either (1) that brook (see note on ch. iv. 7) that has 
flowed on for ages, or (2) that brook renowned from old (the Targum 
translates "the brook along which banners were borne and the prowess 
of Israel celebrated of old"). For the first meaning compare 

For men may come and men may go, 
But I flow on for ever. 

Tennyson, The Brook. 

The word here is not the usual word for ages of time, but is a form 
altogether peculiar of a word signifying before. 

thou hast trodden down] So LXX. and Vulg. There can be 
little doubt that the verb must be rendered imperatively, and in this 
case the noun must be taken adverbially, and the whole rendered 
Marcn on, my soul, in strength. 

22. Then were the horsehoofs broken] Rather, then stamped the 
horsehoofs. The word occurs first here, and is used of any sudden 
blow, as of a horse's hoof striking the ground or of a hammer on an 
anvil (Is. xli. 7). See also v. 26, where the same word is used. 

pransings] The Hebrew word only occurs here and in Nahum iii. 2. 

vv. 23—25.] JUDGES, V. 95 

Curse ye Meroz, said the angel of the Lord, 2 3 

Curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof; 

Because they came not to the help of the Lord, 

To the help of the Lord against the mighty. 

Blessed above women shall Jael the wife of Heber the 2 4 

Kenite be, 
Blessed shall she be above women in the tent. 
He asked water, and she gave him milk ; 2 5 

She brought forth butter in a lordly dish. 

23. Meroz] Here begins a fresli division, which extends to the end 
of v. 27. A strong contrast is drawn between the lukewarmness of the 
inhabitants of Meroz and the warm zeal which Jael displayed for the 
cause of Israel. Striking as is the whole song, this and the following 
section far surpass the rest in dramatic power. Of Meroz, though some 
attempts have been made to identify it, nothing certain is known. 

the angel of the Lord] The Rabbis interpreted this of the Angel of 
the Covenant. Cf. Exod. xiv. i9,xxiii. 20; Mai. iii. 1. See Schottgen, 
Hor. Hebr. 91. 

the mighty] Or, the valiant. See note on v. 13. The word is not 
the same as that rendered " mighty ones" in the last verse. 

24. Blessed above women] This blessing is clearly opposed to the 
curse on Meroz. We need not suppose that because Deborah sang 
this song under the influence of inspiration, we are therefore to accept 
her judgment upon a point of morals. She sang according to her 
point of view, which was a purely national and exclusive one, under a 
dispensation national and exclusive in its character, which, when it had 
done its work, was to be replaced by a better. To her, accustomed, 
like her fellow-countrymen, to view all events from an Israelitish stand- 
point, and under the exaltation of the recent victory, Jael's conduct 
naturally appeared eminently glorious and heroic. 

in the tent] i.e. leading a nomad existence. 

25. butter] So the LXX. and Vulg. But the narrative in ch. iv., as 
well as the first part of this verse, would lead us to prefer, with some 
commentators, cream, or with Gesenius, less probably, curdled milk. 
Of a meal with Aghyle Aga in 1862, Dean Stanley says (Led. on 
Jewish Ch. I. 325), "the sour milk (Lebban) was in a large pewter 
vessel like a small barrel, a cup floated in it to skim and drink the con- 
tents. The sweet milk (Halib) was in a smaller pewter vessel, round 
like a pan, to be drunk by raising it to the lips." 

in a lordly dish] Lit. in a bowl of mighty ones. See note on v. 13. 
The word here rendered bowl only occurs again in ch. vi. 38. It was 
probably (see Van Lennep, Bible Customs, 475) the "shallow drinking 
cup, usually of brass," still used in the East. The Chaldee and LXX. 
render phial, i. e. not a bottle, but a shallow bowl. 

JUDGES, V. [vv. 26—28. 

She put her hand to the nail, 

And her right hand to the workmen's hammer ; 

And with the hammer she smote Sisera, she smote off his 

When she had pierced and stricken through his temples. 
At her feet he bowed, he fell, he lay down : 
At her feet he bowed, he fell : 
Where he bowed, there he fell down dead. 
The mother of Sisera looked out at a window, 
And cried through the lattice, 

26. hammer] The word only occurs here, but it is derived from the 
verb freely translated "with the hammer" here. See next note. A 
different word, no doubt less poetic, is used in ch. iv. 21. 

with the hammer] Lit. she hammered. See note on v. 22. 

smote off] Rather, smote through. This word also is only found 
here. It is very similar in sound to that which follows, which is probably 
the reason for its use, alliteration being a marked feature of this song. 

when she had pierced and stricken through] Rather, and she crashed 
and struck through. 

his temples] The original signifies the thinnest part of the skull. 
This word only occurs here and in the Song of Solomon. 

27. there he fell down dead] This poetical description is highly 
coloured, but it expresses in the liveliest terms the triumphant feeling of 
patriotic Israelites at the death, of the chief captain of their mighty 
oppressor. The word rendered dead is not the usual expression, but a 
word which occurs only here in this sense. It is the passive participle 
of a verb connected with the word Shaddai (Almighty), and signifies 
therefore death through being overpowered by an enemy. It must also 
be remembered (see ch. iv. 9, ix. 54), that to die by a woman's hand 
was the greatest disgrace that could befal a man. 

28. The mother of Sisera] The literal translation of this passage is, 

Through the window she looked and cried aloud 
The mother of Sisera (cried) through the lattice. 

The words translated cried aloud, and lattice, are not found save in this 
passage. And the word translated looked, means to bend forward 
eagerly in looking, which gives a vividness to the picture difficult to 
convey in an English translation. 

lattice] The LXX. has network. The Hebrew word means an 
opening through which cool air is admitted. See note on summer 
parlour, in ch. iii. 20. " These flat roofs or terraces are sometimes 
inclosed with a low parapet of masonry, or a higher one of lattice work, 
supported by wooden frames, which screen the women of the household 
from the inquisitive gaze of the neighbourhood." Van Lennep, Bible 
Customs, 433. 

vv. 29, 30.] JUDGES, V. 97 

Why is his chariot so long in coming ? 

Why tarry the wheels of his chariots ? 

Her wise ladies answered her> 

Yea, she returned answer to herself, 

Have they not sped ? have they not divided the prey ; 

To every man a damsel or two ; 

To Sisera a prey of divers colours, 

A prey of divers colours of needlework, 

Of divers colours of needlework on both sides, 

Meet for the necks of them that take the spoil ? 

so long in coming] Our version here just hits off the tone of dis- 
appointed expectation conveyed by the Hebrew word. 

wheels] Rather, paces, a more poetic word. It means literally 
steps (" the feet of the foure whelid cartys of hym," Wiclif). The 
Chaldee paraphrases by introducing couriers with despatches — a much 
later idea. See 1 Sam. iv. 12; 2 Sam. i. 2, xviii. 19 — 23, where 
tidings are still borne by word of mouth. 

29. ladies] Rather, princesses. The word here is Sarah, the sig- 
nification of which is well known. See Gen. xvii. 15. Wiclif has 
here (after the Vulgate) " oon wiser than other wyfis of hym." 

she returned answer to herself] Lit. she (emphatic) returned her 
words to her. Some have thought that this means that she refused to 
be quieted by the suggestions of her ladies, but kept repeating her 
question. But the usual interpretation is more probable. 

30. Have they not sped? have they not divided the prey] Rather, 
are they not finding, dividing the spoil ? that is first searching the 
bodies of the slain, and then apportioning their booty by lot. 

a damsel or two] Lit., a damsel, two damsels. The word damsel 
(Shakspere and Spenser write damosel) derived from the late Latin 
dominicella, the diminutive of domina, lady, does not give the some- 
what contemptuous force of the original, which plainly implies that 
Sisera's captives, like those of the early Greek heroes, were destined to 
share the bed of their conquerors. The whole plot of the Iliad, as is 
well known, turns upon this custom. 

divers colours] Lit., dipped, or dyed stuffs. The word is not found 

divers colours of needlework] Lit. , dyed stuffs — embroidery. 

divers colours of needlework on both sides] Lit., dyed stuff, double 
embroidery, the word embroide7y being in the dual number and the 
embroidery being in various colours and, as is very often the case, with 
gold and silver threads upon the coloured ground, just as much Eastern 
work is now, from Turkey to Hindostan. Van Lennep tells a story of 
a lady from the West who adopted the Eastern style of dress while in 
the East, and who, when she discarded it, found enough silver threads 
in her clothing to make a sugar-basin when melted down. 

meet for the necks of them that take the spoil] The Hebrew is to or 


98 JUDGES, V, VI. [w. 315 1,2. 

So let all thine enemies perish, O Lord : 
But let them that love him be as the sun when he goeth 
forth in his might. 
And the land had rest forty years. 

Chap. VI. 1 — 6. The Oppression by Midian. 

6 And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the 
Lord : and the Lord delivered them into the hand of Midian 

2 seven years. And the hand of Midian prevailed against 
Israel: and because of the Midianites the children of Israel 

for the necks of the spoil. It must either (1) be translated as the A. V. 
(and the Targum) or {2) for (i.e. made for) the necks of the spoiled, or 
(3) on the necks of the spoil. A fourth interpretation, which would read 
(Sisera's) spouse, is entirely arbitrary. Many versions escape the diffi- 
culty by a paraphrase. Thus Wiclif following the Vulgate, has " for 
the neck." The revised version made after his death has "for our 
neck." If we take the second translation given above, the garments 
in question were stripped from the bodies of the slain, which are thus 
poetically regarded as spoil. If the third, it relates to the richly 
embroidered garments of the captives. Spoil was one of the great 
objects of pride to the conqueror, as a perpetual witness of his manly 

31. the sun when he goeth forth in his might] Or, as the going forth 
of the sun in his might (" as the sunne in his risynge shyneth, so glit- 
teren thei," Wiclif). Thus the song ends with a noble image, a fitting 
conclusion to the series of vivid pictures which have gone before. 

Ch. VI. 1—6. The Oppression by Midian. 

1. Midian] This tribe was descended from a descendant of Abra- 
ham by Keturah (Gen. xxv. 2). The territory of Midian proper was 
on the east side of the ^Elanitic Gulf at the northern extremity of the 
Red Sea. It must, however, have extended beyond Edom to the 
confines of Moab (Numb. xxii. 4, 7, xxxi. 1 ; cf. also Exod. iii. 1, 
where Horeb seems to have been at no very unreasonable distance). 
Here, however, roving bands of Midianites, Amalekites and other 
nomad tribes, seem to have infested the land of Israel, much as the 
Bedouin and other tribes do at present. See also v. 4. Dr Cassel 
(see also Conder, Tent Work in Palestine, II. 272) thinks that Bedouin 
or Bedawin is the same word as Midian, b (or v, as it is often pro- 
nounced in Hebrew) and m, both labials, being interchanged. A 
similar interchange takes place in Welsh, where f (pronounced v) and 
m are used in the different inflections of the same word. 

w. 3—5.] JUDGES, VI. 99 

made them the dens which are in the mountains, and caves, 
and strong holds. And so it was, when Israel had sown, 3 
that the Midianites came up, and the Amalekites, and the 
children of the east, even they came up against them; 
and they encamped against them, and destroyed the in- 4 
crease of the earth, till thou come unto Gaza, and left no 
sustenance for Israel, neither sheep, nor ox, nor ass. For 5 

2. dens] The Hebrew word only occurs here. It means either 
(1) light holes (see Fiirst's Lexicon), or (2) mountain ravines scooped 
out by the action of water (it is derived from the word signifying river in 
Hebrew), or (3) grottoes or caves. The ancient versions translate 
less definitely, "hiding places in mountains." How they can be 
said to have "made" them is not at first sight clear; but it is pro- 
bable that they excavated the rocks for purposes of habitation. The 
rock dwellings at Petra must have been of a similar kind, and 
Wetstein mentions dwellings consisting of shafts driven into the 
earth on the mountain side, and at the depth of about twenty-five 
fathoms streets ran off, laterally, about six to eight paces wide. Some- 
thing of this kind is implied by the article, which specifies some par- 
ticular kind of abode which the Israelites made. 

caves] This also has the article in the original, and must refer to the 
caves, of which there are an immense number in Palestine, which are 
partly natural, partly artificial. Of these the most famous now existing 
are in the Mons Quarantania, near Jericho, which have been described 
by Robinson, Canon Tristram and many other recent explorers. 

strong holds] This is not mibtzar, the usual word for a fortified city, 
but rritzadah. It means rather originally a place of lying in wait, and 
hence a place of retreat. Cf. 1 Sam. xxiii. 14, 19, xxiv. 1, (xxiii. 29 
in the A. V.), 1 Chron. xi. 7, where the same word is used. 

3. the children of the east] Nomad tribes of various kinds who were 
ready to join the Midianites and Amalekites in an expedition giving 
promise of plunder. There appears to have been no design of conquest 
in these invasions. They were more like the incursions of the Picts 
and Scots into Britain during the latter part of the Roman dominion, 
or the raids for "lifting" cattle which were common from the High- 
lands of Scotland into the lowlands at a much later period. 

4. increase] Rather, produce. 

till thou come unto Gaza] The Midianites (v. 33) appear to have 
crossed the Jordan by the fords near Bethshean, to have made their 
way to the fertile plain on the sea coast, and then to have gone forward, 
plundering as they went, to Gaza, the extreme limit of the Israelite 
territory (1 Kings iv. 24). Such incursions of the Picts and Scots into 
Southern Britain once (a. d. 368), laid London in ruins, and led to the 
famous request for Saxon assistance, so fatal to those who made it, 

sheep] Margin, goat. The word means any individual member of a 
flock, whether sheep or goat. 

ioo JUDGES, VI. [vv. 5—9. 

they came up with their cattle and their tents, and they 
came as grasshoppers for multitude; for both they and their 
camels were without number : and they entered into the 
6 land to destroy it. And Israel was greatly impoverished be- 
cause of the Midianites; and the children of Israel cried 
unto the Lord. 

7 — 10. The message of the prophet. 

7 And it came to pass, when the children of Israel cried 

8 unto the Lord because of the Midianites, that the Lord 
sent a prophet unto the children of Israel, which said unto 
them, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, I brought 
you up from Egypt, and brought you forth out of the 

9 house of bondage ; and I delivered you out of the hand 

5. For they came up] The Hebrew is here unusually emphatic : for 
they (emphatic) and their cattle came up, and their tents. 

as grasshoppers for multitude] Lit. according to the abundance of 
locusts for multitude. The constant rendering of the word signi- 
fying locust by grasshopper in our version leads nowhere to such a 
misconception as here, where it is not merely the multitude, but the 
devastation which resulted from it that is implied. The Hebrew word 
signifying locust is derived from the idea of multitude. 

camels] As the word translated cattle originally means simply pos- 
sessions, it is probable that the cattle referred to above were their 

without number] Rather, innumerable, i.e. so numerous that they 
could not be counted. 

6. impoverished] The Hebrew word is a forcible one. It means 
to hang helplessly down. Hence it came to mean to be poor, or 
oppressed, from the utter helplessness of such persons. 

7 — 10. The message of the prophet. 

8. sent a prophet] The word translated prophet means originally 
one who speaks by a Divine impulse, in strong and vehement words. 
See above, ch. iv. 4. It is remarkable that the existence of a class of 
men whose duty it is to convict men of moral declension is peculiar to 
revealed religion. Other religions had their priests, Judaism and 
Christianity alone had their prophets. If Mohammed has instituted 
anything analogous in his system, it must be remembered that Judaism 
and Christianity were the sources from which the greater part of his 
inspirations were drawn. 

the house of bondage] Rather, of servants. The 'ebed was often, but 
not always, a slave, though it must be confessed that the idea of inde- 

vv. 10, ii.] JUDGES, VI. 101 

of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of all that oppressed 
you, and drave them out from before you, and gave you 
their land ; and I said unto you, I am the Lord your God ; 10 
fear not the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell : 
but ye have not obeyed my voice. 

ii — 24. The Call of Gideon. 
And there came an angel of the Lord, and sat under an u 

pendence and voluntary contract which in our days we attach to the 
idea of the word, has little place in the despotic notions now, as ever, 
prevalent in the East. The prophet, as is natural in one who desires to 
bring Israel back to its observance, quotes the very words of the law 
(Exod. xx. 2), save that he says "brought thee up" instead of "brought 
thee out." 

9. oppressed] The LXX renders by the precise Greek equivalent 
0\L(3(t), to squeeze or press, the noun derived from which is rendered 
usually by tribulations in the A. V. The remainder of the verse shews 
that the inhabitants of Palestine are here referred to. Hence oppression, 
in the strict sense, cannot here be meant. 

10. Amorites'\ There is a remarkable undesigned coincidence here. 
The expression "gods of the Amorites" is unusual. But the prophet is 
referring to the words of Joshua in his solemn appeal to the people re- 
corded in Josh. xxiv. (see especially ver. 15, 18). The book of Joshua, 
according to the most probable theory, which assigns it to some period 
in the life-time of Phinehas, the High Priest, had long become one of 
the sacred books of the Jews, and as such its contents were of course 
familiar to the prophets of Jehovah. 

11 — 24. The Call of Gideon. 

11. an angel of the Lord] In human form, as was usual. See Gen. 
xviii. 2, cf. also ch. xiii. 3; Josh. v. 13. These appearances {Theophanies, 
as they have been termed) have been variously explained in the Christian 
Church. They were supposed in the earliest times to have been the Son 
of God Himself, the Angel of the Covenant (Exod. xxiii. 20, 23, xxxiii. 
2; cf. 14). The prevalence of the Arian heresy caused this idea to be 
abandoned by the later fathers, from a fear that it might derogate from 
a belief in the true Divinity of Jesus Christ. Modern divines, however, 
have revived! the theory. It was also a favourite doctrine of the Rabbis, 
who taught that the expressions "Angel of the Lord/' "glory of the 
Lord," " Shechina," were synonymous, and that they were all names of 
the Messiah. All three, it may be observed, occur in the Chaldee 
Paraphrase of this history 1 . See Schottgen, Hor. Hebr. I. 25, iv. 464. 

1 The rendering by the Chaldee Paraphrast of these two verses is: 12 And an 
angel of Jehovah revealed himself to Gideon, and he said to him, The Word 
(Meim'ra) of Jehovah is come to thy aid, thou mighty man of valour. 13 And Gideon 
said unto him, I pray thee, Rabboni, if the Skechinah of Jehovah be for our help, why 
hath all this befallen us? 

102 JUDGES, VI. [vv. 12, 13. 

oak which was in Ophrah, that pertained unto Joash the 
Abi-ezrite : and his son Gideon threshed wheat by the wine- 

12 press, to hide it from the Midianites. And the angel of the 
Lord appeared unto him, and said unto him, The Lord is 

13 with thee, thou mighty man of valour. And Gideon said 

Fuller's information will be found in Hengstenberg's Christology, Liddon's 
BajJipton Lectures (Lect. 11.), and in Keil and Delitzsch's Commentary 
on Genesis, Vol. I. pp. 184 — 191. On this occasion Jehovah, or His 
Angel, appeared in the guise of a traveller, with a staff (v. 21) in his 

an oak] Literally, the terebinth, the Pistacia Terebinthus of Linnaeus, 
the Arabic but?n. So the majority of authorities. It is a very common 
tree still in Palestine — a hardy, long-lived and spreading tree, likely to 
become a well-known landmark. See Robinson, Biblical Researches, II. 
222 (3rd ed.). See also Josh. xxiv. 26; cf. Gen. xxxv. 4. 

Ophrah"] Various suggestions have been made for the situation of 
this Ophrah (which must not be confounded with Ophrah in Benjamin — 
Josh, xviii. 23; 1 Sam. xiii. 17). It was the village or farm belonging 
to Joash. 

Abi-ezrite] From 1 Chron. vii. 18, we learn that Abiezer was the 
son of Hammoleketh, the sister of Gilead. He is called Jeezer (Heb. 
I'ezer) in Numb. xxvi. 30, but Abi-ezer in Josh. xvii. 2. It is however 
probable that in Numb. xxvi. 30, the letter Beth has dropped out, and 
the LXX Achiezer makes this almost certain, they having read Caph for 
Beth p for 2). Therefore Joash was a Manassite, and his land within 
the borders of that tribe. 

Gideon] Literally, hewer, Gideon, from his name, was a man of 
might (ver. 12, 14), but from the insignificance of his family in a tribe 
not accustomed, like Ephraim, to take the lead (see v. 15, ch. viii. 2), 
he displays great reluctance to undertake the onerous charge the angel 
has put upon him, and can only be encouraged to do so by the most un- 
equivocal signs of the support of Jehovah. See v. 36 — 40. 

threshed] Probably not with a flail, but with a stick. The word 
is used of beating fruit off a tree. Deut. xxiv. 20; Is. xxvii. 12. 
Threshing was usually performed by oxen (Deut. xxv. 4; 1 Cor. ix. 9; 
1 Tim. v. 18) upon floors (see 2 Sam. xxiv. 16; 1 Chron. xxi. 15) pre- 
pared for the purpose. The ground was first beaten hard, then 
smoothed with a stone roller. Only poor people (Ruth ii. ^17) knocked 
out their scanty store of grain with a stick. This (see also next note) 
shews the straits to which Israel was reduced by the incursions of these 
bands of marauders. 

wine-press] Literally, trough, in which the grapes were trodden, 
from which the pressed juice flowed into the vat below. It was probably 
an apartment hollowed out of the rock, and therefore suitable for pur- 
poses of concealment. 

to hide it] Lit., to cause to flee, i. e. to conceal either the wheat, or 
the fact of its being threshed, from the observation of the Midianites. 

vv. 14, 15.] JUDGES, VI. 103 

unto him, O my lord, if the Lord be with us, why then is all 
this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our 
fathers told us of, saying, Did not the Lord bring us up from 
Egypt ? but now the Lord hath forsaken us, and delivered 
us into the hands of the Midianites. And the Lord looked 14 
upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt 
save Israel from the hand of the Midianites : have not I 
sent thee ? And he said unto him, O my Lord, wherewith 15 
shall I save Israel ? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, 

13. Of] The Hebrew interjection seems to mean with leave, and 
is an expression of great humility, which accords well with the whole 
character of Gideon, as here depicted. He united much vigour and 
physical strength with much self-distrust and timidity. See ch. viii. 23, 
and cf. ch. viii. 2, 8, with ch. xii. 1 — 6. 

why then is all this befallen us ?] In spite of the repeated warnings 
of the prophets, Gideon does not appear to connect the misfortunes 
of Israel with their sins. Perhaps in his retirement and insignificance, 
he had no opportunity of becoming acquainted with the true state of the 
case. In spite of the regulation which scattered Levites throughout 
the tribes to keep alive the knowledge of God's Law, there was in 
Gideon's time a very wide-spread ignorance of its precepts. For under 
a foreign oppressor's yoke the due observance of the law was impossible. 
And even when deliverance came, it did not necessarily involve a 
complete religious reformation. 

forsaken] Lit., beaten us down, hence rejected us. The LXX 
(Codex Alex.) renders by the same word which in Rom. xi. 2, is rendered 
cast away. 

hands] The original is stronger, palm, implying the grasp in which 
the Midianites held them. 

14. And the Lord looked upon him] Rather, Jehovah turned to 
him, the angel here as elsewhere (Josh. vi. 2; cf. Gen. xxxii. 30), 
being spoken of as Jehovah Himself. See also ch. xiii. 22. 

in this thy might] The physical strength which obtained for him 
his name (see note above), which is implied in the Angel's first 
words. Nor need he rest upon this strength alone, but a better 
ground of confidence was to be found in the assurance "the Lord is 
with thee." 

hand] See note on "hands," v. 13. 

15. O my Lord] See note on v. 13. The LXX. translates as 
A. V. But the Masoretic pointing here (as well as the Targum) re- 
quires the translation Lord, not my Lord, implying the Divinity of 
Him to Whom Gideon speaks. See note on last verse, and v. 21. 

my family is poor] Lit., my thousand is the meanest. The thousand 
was probably a division for military purposes, parallel to the mish- 
pachoth or septs, which were genealogical divisions. It may be compared 
with the hundred or wapentake of our Saxon and English forefathers. 
But the English nation has always attached less importance to family 

104 JUDGES, VI. [vv. 16—20. 

16 and I am the least in my father's house. And the Lord 
said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt 

17 smite the Midianites as one man. And he said unto him, 
If now I have found grace in thy sight, then shew me a sign 

18 that thou talkest with me. Depart not hence, I pray thee, 
until I come unto thee, and bring forth my present, and set 
it before thee. And he said, I will tarry until thou come 

19 And Gideon went in, and made ready a kid, and un- 
leavened cakes of an ephah of flour: the flesh he put in a 
basket, and he put the broth in a pot, and brought it out 

20 unto him under the oak, and presented it. And the angel of 
God said unto him, Take the flesh and the unleavened cakes, 
and lay them upon this rock, and pour out the broth. And 

than political and military considerations, while the Celtic races have 
adhered more closely to the former. The peculiar position of the Jews 
in Palestine, coupled with their ancestral pride as descendants of 
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, compelled them to pay equal attention to 
both. For the word translated poor see note on "impoverished " v. 6. 
my father's house] The "father's house" was a subdivision of the 
mishpachah. It does not mean that Gideon was the least important of 
the sons of Joash, but that he was the most insignificant of the 
family, in a larger sense, to which he belonged. See Josh. xxii. 14. 
There was yet a more minute subdivision, the households, as in Josh. 
vii. 17, 18. 

16. as one man] The angel would hereby intimate the suddenness 
and completeness of the overthrow. The whole vast host should be 
annihilated at one blow. 

17. shew me a sign] Here, as in v. 13, we see the deep self- 
distrust of Gideon. He requires three several signs before he will 
lead Israel forth to battle. 

that thou talkest with me] Or, who thou art that talkest with me. 

18. present] Heb. minchah. See note on ch. iii. 15. The LXX. 
and Vulgate render here by sacrifice. 

19. unleavened cakes] Literally, sweet cakes, as opposed to those 
made of leaven, which were soured. 

ephah] This was a measure containing, as some suppose, about a 
bushel, or, as some say, three quarters of a bushel, of flour, English 
measure. It contained three of the seah, as we may gather from Gen* 
xviii. 6, and ten omers, as we learn from Exod. xvi. 36. The word is 
said by Gesenius to be of Egyptian origin. 

broth] This word is only found here and in Isaiah. 

the oak] Or terebinth. See above, v. 11, 

and presented it] So the Masoretic text. But perhaps we may 
translate and drew near. So LXX., Cod, Vat. 

vv. 21—24.] JUDGES, VI. 105 

he did so. Then the angel of the Lord put forth the end 21 
of the staff that was in his hand, and touched the flesh and 
the unleavened cakes; and there rose up fire out of the rock, 
and consumed the flesh and the unleavened cakes. Then 
the angel of the Lord departed out of his sight. And when 22 
Gideon perceived that he was an angel of the Lord, Gideon 
said, Alas, O Lord God ! for because I have seen an angel 
of the Lord face to face. And the Lord said unto him, 23 
Peace be unto thee ; fear not : thou shalt not die. Then 24 
Gideon built an altar there unto the Lord, and called it 
Jehovah-shalom : unto this day it is yet in Ophrah of the 

21. staff] The word signifies something to lean on, 

rock] The word here is not the same as before, and maybe translated 
stone. It was no doubt a comparatively small portion of rock pro- 
truding from the soil. 

there rose up fire] Hence arose a belief that all celestial beings 
would eat no earthly food (cf. ch. xiii. 16), and thus some Rabbinic ex- 
positors explain Gen. xviii. 8 that the angels only seemed to eat. That 
Gideon was not acting, as some have supposed, under such a belief, may 
be seen from his surprise and dismay when he found that the being to 
whom he was speaking was an angel. 

22. Lord God] Rather, Lord Jehovab. Jehovah is usually 
translated "Lord" in the A. V., save when it is coupled with Adonai 
(Lord). Then it is translated "God." The Hebrew word usually 
translated God is Elohim. Thus a somewhat inaccurate and confused 
idea of the Divine nomenclature in the O. T. is conveyed to the English 

for because] Lit. for therefore. The phrase has been variously ex- 
plained (see Keil, Bertheau, Cassel, in loc). But the best explanation 
seems that of the A. V. and Ewald, that it is simply a strong form of 
because. See Ewald, Grammar^ p. 353 n. 

23. the Lord said unto hi??i] Not, apparently, through the medium 
of the now vanished apparition, but by a voice heard within. 

thou shalt not die] The idea of the vision of God being fatal to the 
life of man was common in these early times. It appears in Hagar's 
speech (Gen. xvi. 13), and seems to have gathered intensity as time 
went on. See Exod. xx. 19, xxxiii. 20; Deut. v. 24, 25, 26; ch. xiii. 22. 
The origin of the feeling is explained by St Peter's speech on a remark- 
able occasion (Luke v. 8). 

24. J ehovah-shalom] "Jehovah is peace." 

unto this day] The expression marks a considerable time, or there 
would have been no necessity to make the observation. But it is quite 
inconsistent with the late date to which some would bring down the 
composition of these books. 

yet] Or, as we should say in modern English, still. 

io6 JUDGES, VI [vv. 25— 28. 

25 — 32. The command to destroy the altar of Baal and the 
Asherah, and its fulfilment, 

25 And it came' to pass the same night, that the Lord said 
unto him, Take thy father's young bullock, even the second 
bullock of seven years old, and throw down the altar of 
Baal that thy father hath, and cut down the grove that is by 

26 it : and build an altar unto the Lord thy God upon the 
top of this rock, in the ordered place, and take the second 
bullock, and offer a burnt sacrifice with the wood of the 

27 grove which thou shalt cut down. Then Gideon took ten 
men of his servants, and did as the Lord had said unto 
him : and so it was, because he feared his father's household, 
and the men of the city, that he could not do it by day, that 

28 he did it by night. And when the men of the city arose 

25 — 32. The command to destroy the altar of Baal and 
the asherah, and its fulfilment. 

25. young bullock] Omit "young." 

even] Rather, and. Two bulls were used in the removal of the altar, 
and the second was offered in sacrifice. 
grove] The Asherah. See ch. iii. 7. 
by it] Or upon it. See ch. vii. 1. 

26. rock] So the Vulgate. But the original is strong place, and so 
it is translated by the Chaldee, Syriac and Arabic versions. Though 
the word does not occur before this, it is frequently found afterwards in 
the sense of fortress. No doubt Joash and his neighbours had devised 
some place of security to which they could retire on the approach of the 
Midianites. It shews how deeply the plague of idol worship had eaten 
into the heart of Israel, that it was consecrated to Baal and Asherah, 
not to Jehovah. 

in the ordered place] This has been explained (1) on the foundation, 
i. e. of the altar of Baal ; or (2) that the wood had been laid in order (cf. 
Gen. xxii. 9) for sacrifice to Baal, which was now to be used to build 
an altar for Jehovah; or (3) in an orderly manner, as in our margin 
("in order," LXX., Chaldee and Syriac); or (4) with the preparation 
for the sacrifice. The meaning no doubt is "in conformity to the 
injunctions of the Law" (Exod. xx. 24 — 26). Thus (3) gives the best 
sense. See Exod. xxxix. 37, where the word is used of the lamps set 
in order in the sanctuary. 

the wood of the grove] Rather, the Asherah, which was a wooden 
pillar. The altar of Baal was most likely, like the Canaanite altar to 
Baal and the horned Astarte now in the Fitzwilliam Museum at Cam- 
bridge, of stone. 

27. that he could not] Rather, so that he could not. 

vv. 29—32.] JUDCxES, VI. 107 

early in the morning, behold, the altar of Baal was cast 
down, and the grove was cut down that was by it, and the 
second bullock was offered upon the altar that was built. 
And they said one to another, Who hath done this thing? 29 
And when they inquired and asked, they said, Gideon the 
son of Joash hath done this thing. Then the men of the 30 
city said unto Joash, Bring out thy son, that he may die : 
because he hath cast down the altar of Baal, and because he 
hath cut down the grove that was by it. And Joash said 31 
unto all that stood against him, Will ye plead for Baal ? will 
ye save him ? he that will plead for him, let him be put to 
death whilst it is yet morning : if he be a god, let him plead 
for himself, because one hath cast down his altar. Therefore 32 
on that day he called him Jerubbaal, saying, Let Baal plead 
against him, because he hath thrown down his altar. 

28. grove] Rather, the Asherah. 
by it] Or, on it. 

30. that he may die] Here we may again see how deep-seated was 
Baal-worship in Israel at this time. The downward steps may be traced 
in this book, from the teraphim of Micah (ch. xvii., which relates, as 
will be seen, to events earlier than the time of Gideon) down to the 
utter forgetfulness of God displayed here. See also note, ch. xi. 39. 

31. against him] Literally, upon him, i.e. with a hostile intent, 
which is more strongly intimated in the Hebrew than in our version. 

Will ye plead for Baal? will ye save him?] Rather, Are ye striving 
for Baal? would ye save nim? The ye in each case is emphatic. 
Joash's state of mind is not an uncommon one in a decaying condition 
of national faith. He has not strength of mind enough to set himself 
against public opinion, though he is secretly ashamed of himself. He 
is glad when any one else has the manliness to stand up for what is 
right. And the danger of his son quickens both his perceptions and his 
resolution. He is shrewd enough to see that the argument that if Baal 
be divine, he needs no human intervention to protect his dignity, is 
not easily refuted, while his son's peril and his own evident authority in 
his city prompt him to meet the demand for the death of Gideon by a 
demand more in accordance with the national institutions, namely the 
death of those who would derogate from the honour of Israel's God. 

while it is yet morning] Or this very morning, it being yet very early 
(v. 28). 

32. plead against him] Rather, contend with him. Or, avenge it 
upon nim, as most of the ancient versions. The life of Gideon hence- 
forth was a standing witness of the helplessness of Baal, and his name a 
perpetual memorial of the fact. Hence he is called Jerubbesheth (that 
is, "the Disgrace shall contend") in 2 Sam. xi. 21, when in the pious 

io8 JUDGES, VI. [vv. 33— 35. 

33 — 40. Preparations for the conflict. The double sign 
from God, 

33 Then all the Midianites and the Amalekites and the 
children of the east were gathered together, and went over, 

34 and pitched in the valley of Jezreel. But the spirit of the 
Lord came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet; and 

35 Abi-ezer was gathered after him. And he sent messengers 
throughout all Manasseh ; who also was gathered after him : 

reign of David Baal was regarded in his true light. Cf. Jer. xi. 13; 
Hos. ix. 10. 

33 — 40. Preparations for the conflict. The double sign 
from God. 

33. went over] Or, crossed, i.e. the fords of Jordan near Beth-shean, 
where the river is fordable in many places. See Conder, Handbook to 
the Bible, p. 216. 

pitched] The usual word in Hebrew for the encampment of an 

the valley of Jezreel] The word for valley here is 'Emek (see note on 
ch. i. 19). The valley of Jezreel, or Esdraelon as it is more generally 
called (see Judith iii. 9, iv. 6), runs up from the Carmel ridge to the 
foot of Mount Tabor, where it trifurcates, the northern branch passing 
between Tabor and Little Hermon, and the southern below Mount 
Gilboa, while the chief and central portion runs into the Jordan valley 
by Beth-shean. This last was no doubt the route of the Israelites. The 
plain of Esdraelon or Jezreel (now Zerin) has been described as the 
''battle-field of Palestine," and a recent traveller (Dr Bartlett, From 
Egypt to Palestine, p. 478) remarks on the singular group of memories 
connected with the spot, Barak and Deborah, Sisera, Gideon, Saul 
and Jonathan, Ahab and Jezebel, Jehu, Josiah, Holofernes and Judith, 
Vespasian and Josephus, Saladin and the Knights Templar, Bonaparte 
and Kleber. He might have added two others to the various list, the 
famous Egyptian conquerors Thothmes III. and Rameses II., better 
known as Sesostris, who invaded Syria by this route. See Records 
of the Past, Vols. II. and IV., Brugsch, Hist. Egypt, I. 320 sqq., II. 
45 sqq. 

34. the spirit of the Lord] See ch. iii. 10. 

came upon] Rather, clothed, as margin and all the ancient versions 
except the Arabic. 

was gathered] See note on ch. iv. 13. So also in the next verse. 

Abi-ezer] His own particular mishpachah or sept of the tribe. This 
was more than his "father's house" (see note on v. 15), i.e. the in- 
habitants of Ophrah and the neighbourhood. The Abiezrites inhabited 
a tract of territory of which Ophrah was an insignificant portion (cf. vv. 
15, 24). 

35. who also] Rather, and he, too. The word "messengers" (the 

vv. 36—39.] JUDGES, VI. 109 

and he sent messengers unto Asher, and unto Zebulun, and 
unto Naphtali ; and they came up to meet them. 

And Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by ,e 
mine hand, as thou hast said, behold, I will put a fleece of 37 
wool in the floor ; and if the dew be on the fleece only, and 
it be dry upon all the earth beside, then shall I know that 
thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said. And 38 
it was so : for he rose up early on the morrow, and thrust 
the fleece together, and wringed the dew out of the fleece, a 
bowl full of water. And Gideon said unto God, Let not 39 
thine anger be hot against me, and I will speak but this 

word, as in Greek, is the same which is also translated angel) is em- 

to meet them] Most probably the sense is that the remaining tribes 
who were summoned went up to meet those who were already in the 
field, to "effect a junction with them," as military historians say. The 
Midianites were a mere disorganized rabble, as the event shews. A 
skilful general, like Napoleon, endeavoured to prevent such com- 
binations. Thus the battle of Quatre-bras was fought while the English 
were assembling at their rendezvous, in order to prevent their "going up 
to meet" the Prussians, who were already in the field. A glance at the 
map will shew that the junction in this case might easily have been pre- 
vented, since Asher, Zabulon and Naphtali were on the north, and the 
territory of the Manassites on the south, of the plain of Jezreel, and the 
huge hosts of the marauders lay in reckless confidence (ch. vii. 14) 
between them. 

36. If thou wilt save Israel] See notes on vv. n, 15, "He that 
hath might enough to deliver Israel, hath not might enough to keep 
himself from doubting." Bp. Hall. 

37. will put '] Or, put, i.e. at that moment. 

fleece] This form of the Hebrew word occurs here only. It means 
what is shorn. 

floor] i.e. threshing floor, an area prepared for the purpose either 
under cover (apparently in Ruth ch. iii.) or in the field. See note on 
ch. vi. n. 

38. thrust] Or, squeezed. So the ancient versions. The word is 
used in Job xxxix. 15; Is. lix. 5, of crushing an egg. This, as well as 
the word translated wringed, is one of the words which does not occur 
in previous books. 

bowl] See note on ch. v. 25. 

39. Let not thine anger be hot against me] The severity of the 
Mosaic Law has been much exaggerated. The truth was proclaimed 
from the first that God was "merciful and gracious, longsuftering, and 
abundant in goodness and truth" (Exod. xxxiv. 6, cf. also 7). Nothing 
could be more tender than the way in which God bore with the weak 
faith of Gideon, as of Moses before him (Exod. iv. 10 — 17). Upon the 

no JUDGES, VI. VII. [vv. 40; 1,2. 

once : let me prove, I pray thee, but this once with the 
fleece ; let it now be dry only upon the fleece, and upon all 
40 the ground let there be dew. And God did so that night : 
for it was dry upon the fleece only, and there was dew on all 
the ground. 

Ch. VII. 1 — 8. The selection of the warriors, 

7 Then Jerubbaal, who is Gideon, and all the people that 
were with him, rose up early, and pitched beside the well 
of Harod : so that the host of the Midianites were on the 
north side of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley. 

2 And the Lord said unto Gideon, The people that are with 
thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their 
hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine 

obstinate guilty, His wrath must needs fall. But wherever there was a 
spark of faith, He is ever revealed as dealing tenderly with it, that it 
may have time to grow into a flame. 

Ch. VII. 1—8. The selection of the warriors. 

1. beside] Lit., upon. Some would render "on an eminence above," 
but the A.V. is to be preferred. 

well of Harod] Or, fountain. It is not known where this is. But 
the place is mentioned once again in 2 Sam. xxiii. 25. 

host] Rather, camp. 

valley] The valley, or 'Emek, of Jezreel. See note on i. 19; also vi. 
33. We may observe the undesigned coincidence here. Gideon was of 
the tribe of Manasseh, and though (ch. vi. 35) he had called the northern 
tribes to his help, yet the place of junction would doubtless be in 
Manasseh. And the valley of Jezreel, where the Midianites (ch. vi. 33) 
were encamped, lay to the north of the tribe of Manasseh. Such minute 
accuracy is only possible in an historian who was relating facts, with full 
and accurate information before him. Nothing is known of the hill of 
Moreh, beyond the fact that it could not be the place mentioned in 
Gen. xii. 6 and Deut. xi. 30. Robinson, however (Bibl. Res. in. 117), 
describes a hill Mutsellim, its name having the same signification as that 
of Moreh (i.e. overseer, teacher), which commands a wide view of the 
valley of Jezreel. Others have suggested Little Hermon. 

2. too many] "And now whiles the Israelites thinke, We are too 
few; God sayes, The people are too many" Bp. Hall. 

lest Israel vaunt themselves] Cf. Deut. viii. 17, ix. 4, 5; Ps. cxv. 1; 
Is. x. 13. Not only did the sacred literature of Israel throughout 
attribute all deliverances to Jehovah, but many of them were so clearly 
beyond the reach of human skill or foresight, that no other explanation 
was possible. The accuracy of the surprising facts narrated in this 
chapter is vouched for by the trustworthiness of the minor details. 

3-5-] JUDGES, VII. 

own hand hath saved me. Now therefore go to, proclaim 3 
in the ears of the people, saying, Whosoever is fearful and 
afraid, let him return and depart early from mount Gilead. 
And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand; 
and there remained ten thousand. And the Lord said unto 4 
Gideon, The people are yet too many; bring them down 
unto the water, and I will try them for thee there: and it 
shall be, that of whom I say unto thee, This shall go with 
thee, the same shall go with thee ; and of whomsoever I say 
unto thee, This shall not go with thee, the same shall not go. 
So he brought down the people unto the water : and the 5 
Lord said unto Gideon, Every one that lappeth of the water 
with his tongue, as a dog lappeth, him shalt thou set by 

3. Whosoever is fearful and afraid~\ This was commanded in Deut. 
xx. 8. 

depart early] The word only occurs here. Derived from bird, it 
signifies bird-like motions. Here it seems to mean to go by a circuitous 
path, as men in fear would naturally do. Some of the ancient versions 
and the Cod. Al. of the LXX. refer it to Gideon. 

from mount Gilead] As Gilead (ch. v. 17) was beyond Jordan, the 
mention of Gilead involves a difficulty, one solution of which is that 
by a copyist's blunder Gilead has been substituted for Gilboa, which 
(1 Sam. xxix. 1, 11; cf. xxxi. 1) could not have been far off. The 
Hebrew letters of Gilead and Gilboa are much alike. But the LXX. 
has Gilead, so that the error must have arisen very early; and, as 
Joshua xvii. 3 shews, some of Gilead's descendants dwelt on the western 
side of Jordan. There might therefore have been a Mount Gilead 
in western Manasseh. 

And there returned of the people} This does not say much for the 
martial spirit of Israel at this time. "Who can but bless himselfe, to 
find of two and thirty thousand Israelites, two and twenty thousand 
cowards." Bp. Hall. 

4. try] The word, which occurs first here, signifies to test by fire, 
as the refiner tests silver. See Ps. xii. 7, lxvi. 10; Mai. iii. 2, 3. 

5. lappeth] Or, licketh, the word, which is infrequent, and occurs 
here for the first time, being almost exactly the same as our word lick. 
Some commentators have found (1) reasons for this choice in the idol 
worship of Canaan. Josephus (2) thinks that those who lapped lay 
down at their ease on the bank, and thus shewed their courage, in con- 
trast with the rest, who drank hurriedly from the stream itself. But (3) 
it seems most probable that Gideon was directed to choose those who 
lapped as being men inured to warfare, who drank standing to guard 
against surprise by the enemy. It is remarkable that Gideon, who 
needed such unmistakable signs that God was with him, should so 
readily have yielded to so hazardous an arrangement as this. But we see 

H2 JUDGES, VII. [vv. 6— ii. 

himself; likewise every one that boweth down upon his 

6 knees to drink. And the number of them that lapped, 
putting their hand to their mouth, were three hundred men : 
but all the rest of the people bowed down upon their knees 

7 to drink water. And the Lord said unto Gideon, By the 
three hundred men that lapped will I save you, and deliver 
the Midianites into thine hand: and let all the other people 

8 go every man unto his place. So the people took victuals 
in their hand, and their trumpets : and he sent all the rest of 
Israel every man unto his tent, and retained those three 
hundred men : and the host of Midian was beneath him in 
the valley. 

9 — 14. The dream, and Gideon' s encouragement thereby. 

9 And it came to pass the same night, that the Lord said 
unto him, Arise, get thee down unto the host ; for I have 

10 delivered it into thine hand. But if thou fear to go down, 

11 go thou with Phurah thy servant down to the host : and 

(v. 10) that his faith required some further encouragement. " Nothing 
is more absurd than the notion that such traits were invented by a later 
historian. " Ewald. 

7. By the three hundred men] Cf. 1 Sam. xiv. 6; 2 Chron. xiv. 

8. victuals] The Hebrew word originally signifies provision obtained 
by hunting, thus intimating a time in the past history of the nation 
when (Gen. xxvii. 3) much of their food was obtained in this way. See 
also note on ch. xvii. 10. The LXX., Targum and many modern 
commentators would translate here, "They took the people's provision 
in their hands," i. e. of the 9,700 who had returned, as some think. 
But this would have been an intolerable load for warriors who required 
above all things to be unencumbered. If we adopt this translation we 
must understand that the rest of the people gave them sufficient pro- 
vision for their needs. But the translation does violence to the present 
Heb. text. 

9 — 14. The dream, and Gideon's encouragement thereby. 

9. Arise, get thee down] This was a command to go and smite the 
host. But knowing Gideon's distrustful disposition, Jehovah bids him, 
if he fears to embark upon so great a venture without further encourage- 
ment, take an attendant and go down to listen to the conversation of the 
host. "He that hath might enough to deliver Israel, yet hath not 
might enough to keepe himselfe from doubting. The strongest faith 
will ever have some touch of infidelitie." Bp. Hall. 

10. servant] The original has young man. 

vv. 12—14.] JUDGES, VII. 113 

thou shalt hear what they say; and afterward shall thine 
hands be strengthened to go down unto the host. Then 
went he down with Phurah his servant unto the outside of 
the armed men that were in the host. And the Midianites 12 
and the Amalekites and all the children of the east lay along 
in the valley like grasshoppers for multitude ; and their 
camels were without number, as the sand by the sea side 
for multitude. And when Gideon was come, behold, there 13 
was a man that told a dream unto his fellow, and said, 
Behold, I dreamed a dream, and lo, a cake of barley bread 
tumbled into the host of Midian, and came unto a tent, 
and smote it that it fell, and overturned it, that the tent lay 
along. And his fellow answered and said, This is nothing M 

11. armed men] The meaning of this word has been much disputed. 
It occurs only here and in Exod. xiii. 18; Josh. i. 14, iv. 12. As it is 
related to the Hebrew word for five, it probably means in battle array, 
which usually is in five divisions, the van, the centre, the two wings, and 
the rear. There is an Arabic word almost precisely similar, with this 
signification. In spite of the disorder reigning in the camp of the 
Midianites, they probably had not abandoned the five-fold arrangement, 
or even if they had done so, warriors in the field might still retain this 
appellation, derived from what ought to be their order, just as soldiers 
are so named from their pay, though they have often failed to receive it, 
and cavalry from their horses, even when they are dismounted. 

12. lay along] Literally, were falling, referring to the disorder in 
which they were scattered about. Compare the account of the Nor- 
wegian host before the battle of Stamford Bridge. 

grasshoppers] See note on ch. vi. 5. 

13. cake] The word, which only occurs here, signifies a circular 
cake. Such cakes are now (Van Lennep, Bible Customs, 88) * 'baked in 
an oven consisting of a hole in the ground three feet deep," or sometimes 
(see 1 Kings xix. 6) laid upon coals (or heated stones) and baked. So 
Buxtorf explains the Targum rendering here, though others (as Minister) 
regard it as referring to the holes pricked in it, as in the modern 
Jewish Passover cake. 

barley bread] Alluding to the insignificance of Gideon and his 
family, or perhaps of his whole troop. Barley then, as it is still, was 
distinguished from "fine flour." "To heare himselfe but a Barly-cake, 
troubled him not. It matters not how base wee be thought, so we be 
victorious." Bp. Hall. 

a tent] Rather, the tent, no doubt of the commander. 

lay along] As above, feU. 

14. And his fellow answered] Lit., his neighbour. The only ex- 
planation that can be given of this answer is that Gideon's expedition 
was known to the Midianites, but that in their overweening confidence 

judges 8 

ii4 JUDGES, VII. [vv. 15—18. 

else save the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of 
Israel : for into his hand hath God delivered Midian, and all 
the host. 

15 — 25. The defeat of Midia?i. 

15 And it was so, when Gideon heard the telling of the 
dream, and the interpretation thereof, that he worshipped, 
and returned into the host of Israel, and said, Arise; for 
the Lord hath delivered into your hand the host of Midian. 

16 And he divided the three hundred men into three com- 
panies, and he put a trumpet in every man's hand, with 

17 empty pitchers, and lamps within the pitchers. And he 
said unto them, Look on me, and do likewise : and behold, 
when I come to the outside of the camp, it shall be that, as 

18 I do, so shall ye do. When I blow with a trumpet, I and 
all that are with me, then blow ye the trumpets also on 
every side of all the camp, and say, The sword of the Lord, 

they disregarded it. The present speaker, more thoughtful than his 
fellows, foreboded evil from an attack which other men despised. "The 
children of the East," says Bertheau, "were celebrated for their skill 
in divination, as the story of Balaam shews." 

15—25. The defeat of Midian. 

15. the inteipretation thereof] Lit., its breaki7ig. A similar ex- 
pression is still used in the Midland Counties of England for an event 
which calls to mind a previous dream. 

host] Rather, camp. 

Arise] This unexpected and remarkable confirmation of the visions 
and signs which had previously occurred removed all Gideon's remain- 
ing fears. 

16. companies] Lit., heads. 

lamps] Or, as the margin, torches. The word, however, in the 
Hebrew is almost identical with our word lamp, as with the Latin and 
Greek lampas. The pitchers were used to conceal the lamps, until by 
the noise of their breaking and the sudden appearance of the light, the 
Midianites should be thrown into confusion. The article in Smith's 
Dictionary of the Bible tells us that this mode of concealing the light of 
a lamp is still practised in Egypt. See also Van Lennep, Bible Lands, 

17. Look on me] Lit., see from me, i.e. take pattern from me. 
"Now when we would looke that Gideon should give charge of whet- 
ting their swords and sharpening their speares and fitting their armour, 
he only gives order for empty pitchers, and lights and trumpets." Bp. 

vv. 19—21.] JUDGES, VII. 115 

and of Gideon. So Gideon, and the hundred men that were 19 
with him, came unto the outside of the camp in the be- 
ginning of the middle watch ; and they had but newly set 
the watch: and they blew the trumpets, and brake the 
pitchers that were in their hands. And the three companies 20 
blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers, and held the 
lamps in their left hands, and the trumpets in their right 
hands to blow withal: and they cried, The sword of the 
Lord, and of Gideon. And they stood every man in his 21 
place round about the camp : and all the host ran, and cried, 

18. The sword of the Lord and of Gideon] As the type of our ver- 
sion shews, the words "the sword of" are not in the original. Nor 
need they be supplied. With the LXX., Syriac and Vulgate we may 
render For Jehovah and for Gideon. But see v. 20. 

19. the middle watch] The Rabbis disputed whether there were 
three or four watches. Rabbi Nathan (on Mishna I. 1) held that 
there were three, because the middle watch is here spoken of. But 
other Rabbis contended that there were four, because Ps. cxix. 62 and 
148 represent the Psalmist as rising at midnight, and yet before the 
watches of the night, whence they concluded that there was more than 
one after midnight. Therefore Surenhuys denies that in the mention 
of the "fourth watch of the night" (Matt. xiv. 25; Mark vi. 48) the 
Evangelists were reckoning according to the Roman custom. The only 
other watch mentioned in Scripture is the last, or morning watch. See 
Exod. xiv. 24; 1 Sam. xi. 11. Gesenius thinks he finds an allusion to 
the first watch in Lam. ii. 19, but the phrase is the same as here, "the 
beginning of the watches," and the plural forbids us to translate "the 
first watch." 

and brake the pitchers] The Hebrew construction, which here is a 
little unusual, implies the contemporaneous breaking of the pitchers, 
" indem sie zerbrachen:" Bertheau. Keil gives several instances of 
such stratagems from ancient and modern history. Hannibal extri- 
cated himself in a similar manner, when surrounded by Fabius. See 
Plutarch, Fabius Maximus, 6. 6. Niebuhr relates how in the last 
century an Arab chief escaped from a fortress in which he was besieged 
by a vastly superior force, through the employment of the same means 
as we here find employed by Gideon. 

20. companies] Lit., heads, as above. 

The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon] We may either suppose that 
the word "sword" has dropped out of the text in the former place, or 
that in the excitement of the moment the three hundred men improved 
upon the war-cry prescribed to them. Literally rendered the words 
are Sword ! for Jehovah and for Gideon ! Jost remarks how seldom 
the Israelites, a comparatively uncivilized people inhabiting the moun- 
tains, ventured on a regular engagement with their enemies. Their 
greatest victories were surprises. See Introduction. 


u6 JUDGES, VII. [vv. 22— 24. 

22 and fled. And the three hundred blew the trumpets, and 
the Lord set every man's sword against his fellow, even 
throughout all the host : and the host fled to Beth-shittah in 
Zererath, and to the border of Abel-meholah, unto Tabbath. 

23 And the men of Israel gathered themselves together out of 
Naphtali, and out of Asher, and out of all Manasseh, and 
pursued after the Midianites. 

24 And Gideon sent messengers throughout all mount 

21. cried] The word signifies a loud cry of exultation or alarm. 
and fled] These sudden panics are usual among undisciplined hosts. 

Cf. 1 Sam. xiv. 16, 20; 2 Kings vii. 6, 7; 2 Chron. xx. 23. 

22. Beth-shittah in Zererath] Rather, Beth-shittah in the direction 
of Zererath. The Syriac and Arabic read Tzederah (probably Tzere- 
dah, r and d being much alike in Hebrew and Syriac) here. In 
2 Chron. iv. 17 we have Zeredathah, and most modern commentators 
prefer this reading in the present passage. But they have overlooked 
the fact that the LXX. (Al. Cod.) has Zererah here, for it translates 
"and gathered together" as from tzarar to bind or fold together. If 
Zeredathah be the correct reading here, a comparison of the last cited 
passage with 1 Kings vii. 46 shews that it was the same as Zarthan, 
Josh. iii. 16, &c. and perhaps with Zeredah in 1 Kings xi. 26 (where 
the Vat. Codex of the LXX. reads Zarira). If this be the place meant, 
near Kurn Sartabeh, it was the narrowest part of the Jordan. But 
from 1 Kings iv. 1 2 we read that there was another Zartan or Zarthan 
between Beth-shean and Jezreel, and not far from Abel-meholah. Now 
as there were fords of Jordan near Beth-shean, we must look for this 
Zererah or Zarthan in that direction. Beth-shittah signifies the house of 
the acacia, not the false acacia which grows in our gardens, but the 
acacia Seyal, a tree with a golden tuft of blossom, which from the hard- 
ness of its wood was much employed in the more costly work of the 
tabernacle (Exod. xxv. — xxxvii). 

border] Lit., lip. The word is usually employed to denote the bank 
or shore of a river or sea. 

Abel-meholah] See 1 Kings iv. 12, xix. 16. We learn from the 
latter place that it was the birth-place of Elisha. The name signifies 
the dancing meadow, probably from heathen rites carried on there in 
early times. Canon Tristram supposes it to be "the rich meadow land 
which extends about four miles south of Beth-shean, moist and luxu- 

tinto Tabbath] Lit., upon Tabbath, i.e. which borders on Tabbath. 
If this interpretation be correct, Tabbath can hardly be "a bold terrace 
on the east of Jordan" (Tristram, Bible Places, p. 229). 

23. gathered themselves together] Lit., were cried together, as in ch. 
iv. 13. The tribes here mentioned, as well as Issachar and Zebulun 
(cf. ch. vi. 35), bordered on the valley of Jezreel. But it is strange that 
Issachar is not once mentioned in this narrative. 

vv. 25; I.] JUDGES, VII. VIII. 117 

Ephraim, saying, Come down against the Midianites, and 
take before them the waters unto Beth-barah and Jordan. 
Then all the men of Ephraim gathered themselves together, 
and took the waters unto Beth-barah and Jordan. And *s 
they rook two princes of the Midianites, Oreb and Zeeb; 
and they slew Oreb upon the rock Oreb, and Zeeb they slew 
at the winepress of Zeeb, and pursued Midian, and brought 
the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon on the other side 

Ch. VIII. 1 — 3. Ephraim 's complaint and Gideon's reply. 
And the men of Ephraim said unto him, Why hast ° 

24. the waters unto Beth-barah and Jordan] The original shews 
that we must distinguish between the "waters unto Beth-barah" and 
"the Jordan." The Ephraimites were invited to take all the fords 
(i.e. of the intervening wadies) unto Beth-barah, and to take the Jordan 
fords near Beth-shean also. Beth-barah therefore cannot be the Beth- 
abara beyond Jordan of St John i. 28, if that be the correct reading 
there, which is doubtful. 

gathered themselves together] Were cried together, as above, sum- 
moned, that is, by proclamation. 

25. Oreb and ZeeU\ The name Oreb signifies raven, and Zeeb wolf. 
Compare our own early English Wtdfiic and ALihelwulf. The 
places which took their names from the capture of these princes are 
not mentioned again, save that Isaiah refers to the former in ch. x. 26. 
Cf. Ps. lxxxiii. 9, n. 

on the other side Jordan] Lit., from across the Jordan. As the 
Ephraimites occupied the fords, they must have taken Oreb and Zeeb 
on the western side of Jordan. While they were being gathered toge- 
ther, others of the flying enemy had clearly made their way beyond 
Jordan, pursued by Gideon, and the expostulations of the men of 
Ephraim related in the next chapter must have taken place before the 
heads of Oreb and Zeeb were brought to him. 

Chap. VIII. 1 — 3. Ephr aim's complaint and Gideon's 

1. the men of Ephraim] Ephraim was apparently the leading tribe 
in central Israel. The political and the religious capital of the country 
were alike there. See Joshua xviii. 1, xxi. 2, xxii. 9, 12, xxiv. 1, 25. 
Ephraim was not originally the most numerous of the tribes (cf. Numb. 
i. and xxvi.), but its central position rendered it more secure from inva- 
sion, and no doubt by this time it had become preponderant in num- 
bers. Hence the tone of arrogance assumed here. Similar conduct is 
reported of Ephraim in ch. xii. 1. The supremacy, however, passed 
eventually to Judah. The fact must not, however, be ascribed entirely 

u8 JUDGES, VIII. [vv. 2— 4. 

thou served us thus, that thou calledst us not, when thou 
wentest to fight with the Midianites ? And they did chide 

2 with him sharply. And he said unto them, What have I 
done now in comparison of you ? Is not the gleaning of 
the grapes of Ephraim better than the vintage of Abi-ezer? 

3 God hath delivered into your hands the princes of Midian, 
Oreb and Zeeb : and what was I able to do in comparison of 
you ? Then their anger was abated toward him, when he 
had said that. 

4 — 1 2 . The pursuit. 

4 And Gideon came to Jordan, and passed over, he, and 
the three hundred men that were with him, faint, yet pur- 

to the natural character of the people, but to the mountain region they 
inhabited, as well as to the qualities of the soil, which (see Ewald, 
Hist. Israel, Vol. II. sec. 3, b), being less productive than the rest of 
Canaan, was calculated to develop a hardy and energetic race. Accord- 
ingly, this tribe appears usually to have suffered little from the desolating 
incursions which did so much mischief in other parts of the country. 
The only exception to this which we meet with is in ch. x. 9. See 
also note, ch. v. 17. 

sharply] Lit. , as margin, strongly. 

2. What have I done now in comparison of you ?] There was suffi- 
cient justice in this remark to appease the anger of Ephraim. Gideon's 
three hundred men could not have done much towards the slaughter of 
the Midianites, though he could claim the credit of having dispersed 
them. The opportune seizing of the fords by Ephraim had been the 
means of securing the persons of two of the chief leaders of the Midian- 
itish hordes. 

the vintage of Abi-ezer] See note on ch. vi. 11, 15. Gideon, in 
conformity with his cautious and yielding character, represents his 
whole part in the matter as a small thing beside any one of the im- 
portant successes gained by Ephraim at the fords, and modestly hints 
at the insignificance of his person and family by the side of the com- 
parative greatness of Ephraim. We may compare the different be- 
haviour of Jephthah under similar circumstances, ch. xii. 1 — 6. 

3. their anger was abated] Literally, their spirit (so margin) 
7vas slackened. "His good words are as victorious as his sword; his 
pacification of friends better than the execution of his enemies." 
Bp. Hall. 

4 — 12. The pursuit. 

4. the three hundred men] The same three hundred with which 
he had won the victory. 

faint, yet pursuing] Whatever Gideon's lack of moral courage, 
he was brave and energetic in the field. The attempt to continue 

vv#5 _8.] JUDGES, VIII. 

suing them. And he said unto the men of Succoth, Give, 5 
I pray you, loaves of bread unto the people that follow me ; 
for they be faint, and I am pursuing after Zebah and Zal- 
munna, kings of Midian. And the princes of Succoth said, e 
Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna now in thine hand, 
that we should give bread unto thine army? And Gideon 7 
said, Therefore when the Lord hath delivered Zebah and 
Zalmunna into mine hand, then I will tear your flesh with 
the thorns of the wilderness and with briers. And he went 8 
up thence to Penuel, and spake unto them likewise : and 

the pursuit of this vast host with three hundred men in an exhausted 
condition was at once an act of bravery and a work of faith. 

5. Succoth~\ See Gen. xxxiii. 17; 1 Kings vii. 46; 2 Chron. iv. 17. 
It was in the territory of Gad on the other side Jordan, a little north 
of the brook Jabbok. The Midianitish host was therefore flying south- 
ward. The word (Gen. xxxiii. 17) signifies booths. 

loaves] Literally, circles. The word is not that translated cake 
in ch. vii. 13. It is applied to the country north of the Dead Sea, 
where the cities of the plain were situated. The usual form of the loaf 
in Palestine is still round. Van Lennep, Bible Customs, p. 88. 

6. And the princes of Succoth said] We may trace the progress of 
national disintegration and degradation by comparing this answer with 
the narrative in Josh. xxii. We may also see here the depressing effect 
of the Midianitish and other invasions upon the courage of the Israelites. 
It had an equally prejudicial effect upon their faith, for no doubt it 
was the apparent absurdity of three hundred men attempting to pursue 
so vast an host that induced the princes of Succoth to take such a 

hands] Literally, the palm, perhaps, as Bertheau suggests, with 
reference to the strong grasp they had laid upon the Israelites. It 
was the remembrance of this, and the comparison of their vast host 
with Gideon's little troop, that caused them to fear incurring the wrath 
of Zebah and Zalmunna by giving provisions to their foolhardy pur- 
suers. Our version follows the LXX. here, which makes no distinction 
between the word translated palm and that translated hands in this 
verse. Other versions, as Luther's (and Wiclif, ''the palmes of the 
hoondes ben in thine hoond ") preserve the distinction. 

7. tear] Or, as margin, thresh. The word is akin to our thresh 
and dash, and signifies to strike with violence. 

briers] This word, which only occurs in this chapter, is one which 
the LXX. does not attempt to translate. The Jewish tradition supposes 
it to be a kind of thorny plant, and this is borne out by the context. 
The suggestion of Gesenius, that it means a kind of threshing ma- 
chine whose rollers were set with jagged iron teeth, is quite inad- 

8. Fennel] And this where the vision of God (Gen. xxxii. 24 — 30) 

120 JUDGES, VIII. [vv. 9-14. 

the men of Penuel answered him as the men of Succoth had 

9 answered him. And he spake also unto the men of Penuel, 

saying, When I come again in peace, I will break down this 

™ tower. Now Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor, and 
their hosts with them, a£>out fifteen thousand men, all that 
were left of ail the hosts of the children of the east : for 
there fell an hundred and twenty thousand men that drew 

n sword. And Gideon went up by the way of them that dwelt 
in tents on the east of Nobah and Jogbehah, and smote the 

12 hosts: for the host was secure. And when Zebah and Zal- 
munna fled, he pursued after them, and took the two 
kings of Midian, Zebah and Zalmunna, and discomfited all 
the host. 

13 — 1 7. The chastisemeiit of Succoth and Penuel. 

13 And Gideon the son of Joash returned from battle before 

14 the sun was up, and caught a young man of the men of 

had appeared to their forefather Jacob ! This conduct seems to have 
been altogether without the limits of Gideon's forbearance. The con- 
duct of Ephraim, however arrogant, was at least dictated by a regard 
for the honour of the nation. The conduct of the men of Succoth 
and Penuel was cowardly and moreover unfeeling, as the conduct of 
cowards generally is, to say nothing of its utter inconsistency with the 
claim of Israel to be God's covenant people. 

10. Karkor\ This has been supposed by Eusebius and Jerome to 
be Carcar, about a day's journey from Petra, and therefore not far 
from the Dead Sea. The place, with Nobah and Jogbehah, has not 
been identified. The identification of Eusebius and Jerome falls in 
with the direction of the Midianites' flight, but the distance, as Gesenius 
remarks in his Thesaurus, seems too great. The remark that "the 
host was secure," however, implies that they had fled rapidly and far, 
and that Gideon, by making a detour to the east, had fallen on them 
quite unexpectedly. The word translated host in this and the suc- 
ceeding verse is literally camp or army. The word translated army 
in v. 6 is that so familiar to us in the words Lord of hosts, host of 
heaven, and the like. 

12. discomfited} Literally, terrified. See ch. iv. 15, note. By his 
sudden descent he communicated another panic to the already thoroughly 
demoralized army. But he was contented with the seizure of the 
leaders and the dispersion of their followers, and therefore pursued 
his victory no farther. 

13—17. The chastisement of Succoth and Penuel. 

13. before the sun was up} So the Chaldee version, though some 

vv . 15— 18.I JUDGES, VIII. 121 

Succoth, and inquired of him: and he described unto him 
the princes of Succoth, and the elders thereof, even three- 
score and seventeen men. And he came unto the men of 15 
Succoth, and said, Behold Zebah and Zalmunna, with whom 
ye did upbraid me, saying, Are the hands of Zebah and 
Zalmunna now in thine hand, that we should give bread 
unto thy men that are weary? And he took the elders of 16 
the city, and thorns of the wilderness and briers, and with 
them he taught the men of Succoth. And he beat down i 7 
the tower of Penuel, and slew the men of the city. 

1 8 — 2 1. The death of Zebah and Zalmunna. 

Then said he unto Zebah and Zalmunna, What manner of 18 
men were they whom ye slew at Tabor ? And they answered, 

of the Rabbis render before the sun went dozvn. Lit. from the going 
up of the sun, or of Hej-es. The word Heres is not the usual one for sun 
(see note on ch. i. 35, ii. 9 — though we find it in ch. xiv. 18), and here 
it may be a proper name, though the presence of the article is somewhat 
against this. On the other hand the word ma'aleh is not elsewhere used 
except of an ascent, a path up a mountain. See Numb, xxxiv. 4 ; Josh, 
xv. 3, and ch. i. 36. And it is sometimes (as in 2 Sam. xv. 30, and 
2 Chron. xx. 16) followed by the article before the name of the mountain. 
Heres is the name of a mountain in ch. i. 35, though clearly not this 
mountain. On the whole it seems more probable that this is a proper 
name. The LXX., Syriac and Arabic so render it. Dr Cassel remarks 
that as we have the splendour of the dawn (Zareth-shahar) as the name 
of a town on the same side of Jordan (Josh. xiii. 19) we need not be 
surprised at an ascent of the sun as the name of a mountain. 

14. described] Literally, wrote. No doubt he gave Gideon a 
written list of their names. 

15. upbraid] This word properly is the exact equivalent of the 
Hebrew, to load with reproach. So Bacon, speaking of envy of those 
who have been more successful than ourselves, says "it doth upbraid 
unto them their own fortunes, and pointeth at them." 

hands] Lit. , palm, as above, v. 6. 

16. taught] Taught them a lesson, as we should say. Lit. made 
to know. 

17. and slew the men of the city] See note on v. 8, for an ex- 
planation of the unusual severity of Gideon here. 

18—21. The death of Zebah and Zalmunna. 

18. ye slew at Tabor] This refers to an incident not recorded. 
We may hence learn how very many details are passed over in the 
sabred narrative which, could we recover them, would solve difficulties 
now inexplicable. The murder at Tabor was either (1) the seizure and 

122 JUDGES, VIII. [vv. 19— 22. 

As thou art, so were they ; each one resembled the children 

19 of a king. And he said, They were my brethren, even the 
sons of my mother: as the Lord liveth, if ye had saved 

20 them alive, I would not slay you. And he said unto Jether 
his firstborn, Up, and slay them. But the youth drew not 

21 his sword: for he feared, because he was yet a youth. Then 
Zebah and Zalmunna said, Rise thou, and fall upon us: 
for as the man is, so is his strength. And Gideon arose, and 
slew Zebah and Zalmunna, and took away the ornaments 
that were on their camels' necks. 

22 — 32. Gideon! s conduct after the victory, and his death. 

22 Then the men of Israel said unto Gideon, Rule thou over 

execution of Gideon's brothers by the Midianites as soon as Gideon's 
determination to attack them was made known. Or possibly (2) we 
may have here the key to Gideon's action. His brethren had been 
cruelly murdered by the Midianites, and he himself forced into con- 
cealment. He longed for revenge, but dared not take it, until the 
vision and its attendant signs gave him courage to do so. Or again 
(3) Gideon's brothers may have been seized and slain when on their 
way to the rendezvous. It maybe remarked in support of (2) or (3) 
that Zebah and Zalmunna do not appear to have been aware of the 
relationship to Gideon of the men who had been put to death, but 
to have been suddenly struck, when Gideon put the question, by their 
resemblance to him. 

resembled} Lit. according to the form, as margin. 

a king'] Lit. the king ; but the article is no doubt generic here. 

19. / would not slay you~\ The gentleness of Gideon is displayed 
once more in this incident. There appears to have been no hesitation 
about the slaughter of Oreb and Zeeb ; nor was tenderness to the van- 
quished enjoined in the Mosaic code. It was reserved for Jesus Christ 
to teach men the duties of pity and humanity to the world at large. 

20. unto Jether his firstborn] Possibly to add disgrace to their death 
from its taking place by the hand of a boy. The incident of the boy's 
refusal is at once natural and unlikely to have been an after invention. 

21. Then Zebah and Zalmunna said] These chiefs, whatever their 
crimes may have been, at least died with a manly dignity. 

oi'na?ne?its] Cf. Numb. xxxi. 48 — 54. From the word for moon in 
Syriac and Arabic we learn that these were crescent-shaped ornaments. 
They are still used among the Arabs, and are often worn on the fore- 
head. A full account of similar articles of dress will be found in Lane's 
Modem Egypt, Pt. II. App. A. The use of the crescent as the symbol 
of the Ottoman power is still more widely known among us. It was 
the ancient Byzantine emblem, and is no doubt connected with the 
worship of the horned Astarte (Ashtaroth Karnaim) or Venus. 

vv. 23, 24.] JUDGES, VIII. r23 

us, both thou, and thy son, and thy son's son also : for thou 
hast delivered us from the hand of Midian. And Gideon 23 
said unto them, I will not rule over you, neither shall my 
son rule over you : the Lord shall rule over you. And 24 
Gideon said unto them, I would desire a request of you, that 
you would give me every man the earrings of his prey. (For 

24 — 32. Gideon's conduct after the victory, and his death. 

22. Rule thou over us] Though the word king is not used, yet 
the power offered was virtually kingly, since it was to be hereditary. 
This offer throws light upon the origin of kingly power. In early times, 
when men had to fight for existence, valour and conduct were frequently 
hereditary, for these qualities were then seldom corrupted by flattery or 
luxury. Thus the Israelites, in the first excitement of their extraordinary 
deliverance from the most terrible visitation they had yet experienced 
(it seems to have closely resembled the incursions of the Danes in our 
own history), were disposed to throw themselves at the feet of their 
deliverer. And though he steadfastly resisted their solicitations, yet 
the renown of his name extended to his family, as we learn from the 
history of Abimelech in the next chapter. 

23. And Gideon said tinto theiri\ Justice has hardly been done to 
this almost unique spectacle of self-abnegation. We may look almost 
in vain for historical parallels to it. Moses and Joshua might have 
made themselves kings, but they were never invited to do so. Cin- 
cinnatus returned quietly to his farm when his dictatorship ended, but 
it was never offered to him as an hereditary dignity. Caesar's refusal 
of the crown was dictated by policy rather than principle. The same 
may be said of Oliver Cromwell. To Washington the opportunity of 
founding a dynasty was never given. Gideon had no prudential reasons 
for declining, for the country (v. 28) is said to have remained undis- 
turbed under his rule for forty years. The possibility of the establish- 
ment of kingly power had been foreseen and provided for by Moses 
(Deut. xvii. 14 — 20). But Gideon, with noble disinterestedness, 
refused to alter the constitution of his country, and to run the risk 
of causing heart-burnings and ultimate divisions among his country- 
men. A republic it had been from the first, under the guidance 
of an Unseen Monarch. That fidelity to Him would secure success, 
peace and prosperity, Israel had just had a convincing proof. There- 
fore he declined to put himself in the place of the Great King Who 
had so lately shewn His will and power to protect His people. 
Gideon's conduct here displays not only disinterestedness, but faith 
of a high order. That his faith (v. 27) was not perfect is only another 
way of saying that he, like every one else, was not free from the 
weaknesses incident to humanity. 

24. earrings] or perhaps nose-rings, which are worn now in Africa. 
See Art. Ornaments in Smith's Dictionary of the Bible. But the former 
is more probable, and is the rendering of the ancient versions. 

124 JUDGES, VIII. [vv. 25, 26. 

they had golden earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.) 
23 And they answered, We will willingly give them. And they 
spread a garment, and did cast therein every man the ear- 
26 rings of his prey. And the weight of the golden earrings 
that he requested was a thousand and seven hundred shekels 
of gold ; beside ornaments, and collars, and purple raiment 
that was on the kings of Midian, and beside the chains that 

because they were Ishmaelites] The reason here given for the possession 
of the rings by the children of the East does not seem very clear at first 
sight. But we learn from Gen. xxxvii. 25, 28, xxxix. 1, that the nomad 
tribes of Arabia, the "children of the east," were called indifferently 
Ishmaelites and Midianites, both (Gen. xxv. 2, 4, 6, 12 — 15) being 
descendants of Abraham; and that they were also the traders of the 
East, who went down into Egypt with their spices and balsams, 
and received instead gold and silver. The precious metals, however, 
were also found in Arabia (cf. Gen. iii. 11, x. 29, and xxv. 18). See 
Burton, Gold Mines of Midian, ch. ix., La fid of Midian, ch. iv. 

25. a garment] The hyke or outer garment, which was a kind of 
shawl or blanket. The original has the article, which implies that this 
was the usual way of measuring out the more valuable spoil. 

26. a thousand and seven hundred] The shekel weighed about 253 
grains, or rather more than twice the weight of an English sovereign. 
See Art. by Mr Madden, in Variorum Teacher's Bible. Thus the value 
of these rings, without including the other ornaments, was about ^3400 
of our money — a large amount. The Bedaween of the present day 
are less luxurious, though we read that "the ornaments are bracelets, 
collars, ear and nose-rings of gold, silver, or silver-gilt." Burton, Pil- 
grimage to Mecca, p. 376. 

ornaments] Rather, the ornaments; See note on v. 21. 

collars] Rather the drops. They were precisely the same as many 
of the pendants to modern ear-rings, and though possibly often set with 
pearls, need not have consisted of them at all. Gesenius compares 
the word to the Greek o-raXay/juov (compare our stalagmite) from 
cTciXafa, to drop, distil. In the sense of ornaments, however, this is 
only found in the Latin author Plautus : 

inauris da mihi 
Faciunda[s] pondo duom nummum stalagmia. 

MeiKBchmi ill. 3. 
Procopius, De Bello Persico, 1. 4, gives us a description of the Persian 
king Pherozes with a highly-prized pearl of rare size and whiteness 
hanging from his right ear. 

purple raiment] Literally, garments of purple. The far-famed 
Tyrian dye, of which the classical authors from Homer downward, 
make such frequent mention (see for instance Virg. Georg. in. 17; Juv. 
Sat. vii. 134), was obtained from the shores of the Mediterranean, near 
Dor. See note on ch. i. 27. 

chains] Or neck ornaments, collars, Cf. Prov. i. 9; Cant. iv. 9. 

vv. 27, 28.] JUDGES, VIII. 125 

were about their camels' necks. And Gideon made an 27 
ephod thereof, and put it in his city, even in Ophrah: and all 
Israel went thither a whoring after it : which thing became a 
snare unto Gideon, and to his house. Thus was Midian 28 
subdued before the children of Israel, so that they lifted up 
their heads no more. And the country was in quietness 
forty years in the days of Gideon. 

They adorn the necks of these animals with a band of cloth or of leather 
upon which are strung small shells called cowries. To these the Sheiks 
add ornaments of silver, so that, even in the present day, they would 
form a valuable prize to the spoiler. Wellsted, Travels, 1. 301. 

27. And Gideon made an ephod] The ephod was the outer sleeveless 
garment of the high-priest, and corresponded in many respects to the 
tunicle of the mediaeval ecclesiastical vestments. See the description 
of the ephod in Exod. xxviii. 6 — 12. Here it appears to have been 
a facsimile in gold of the priestly vestment, though some have supposed 
it to have been of the usual material, embroidered in gold in the most 
costly manner. Gideon's devotion to God appears to have been sincere 
and earnest. He desired to offer Him the choicest of the spoil. But 
like many other good men, he appears to have been unable to worship 
Him except in a visible form, with the usual, in fact the universal 
result, the gradual but certain deterioration of the moral and spiritual 
instincts of those who so worship Him. The evil effects of example 
may be traced here. In the neighbouring tribe of Ephraim worship of 
this kind had been for some time in existence. See ch. xvii. 5. " So 
long had God been a stranger to Israel, that now superstition goes 
current for devout worship." "Never man meant better than Gideon 
in his rich ephod; yet this very act set all Israel on whoring." 
Bishop Hall. 

put it] Rather, set it up. 

a whoring] Whether we are to understand this word literally, or to 
suppose it to have related to the spiritual fornication so often spoken of 
by the prophets, which consisted in offering to another the adoration 
due to Jehovah alone, we are not informed. But by what follows it 
seems probable that when once a visible symbol of Jehovah was set 
up, the temptation to honour it with rites borrowed from the heathen 
was irresistible. Compare the worship of the golden calf in Exod. xxxii., 
as well as the sin of Jeroboam in 1 Kings xii. But like that of Micah 
(ch. xvii.), this was unquestionably a worship of Jehovah, though under 
the form of the priestly dress consecrated to His service. Cf. ch. vi. 
25 — 32. We can hardly suppose that Gideon would introduce Baal- 
worship after such an act . 

28. subdued] See note on ch. iii. 30. 

forty years] The frequent recurrence of this number (with eighty 
and twenty) suggests that it is rather an approximation to an exact 
date, than the exact date itself. 

126 JUDGES, VIII. [vv. 29—33. 

29 And Jerubbaal the son of Joash went and dwelt in his 

30 own house. And Gideon had three score and ten sons of 

31 his body begotten : for he had many wives. And his 
concubine that was in Shechem, she also bare him a son, 

22 whose name he called Abimelech. And Gideon the son of 
Joash died in a good old age, and was buried in the sepul- 
chre of Joash his father, in Ophrah of the Abi-ezrites. 

33 — 35- Renewed Apostasy of Israel. 
33 And it came to pass, as soon as Gideon was dead, that the 

29. Jerubbaal] The name Jerubbaal here implies that Gideon was 
renowned all his life as the man who had thrown down the altar of 

30. he had many wives'] The gratitude of his countrymen clearly 
had given him the means to live in opulence, though he had declined 
the crown. 

31. concubine] The name pilegesh denotes a wife of inferior station, 
like Hagar in Gen. xvi. 1. Her name, according to Josephus, was 

Abimelech] Vanity and ostentation seem to have laid hold of Gideon 
in his old age. By the unusual word set instead of called, which we find 
in the original, is most probably (see 2 Kings xvii. 34 ; Neh. ix. 7) meant 
the giving a surname. The name Abimelech (my father a king) 
seems to suggest some hankering after the dignity which in wiser hours 
he had declined. And Abimelech's after career would lead us to the 
supposition that he had been nurtured in such vain aspirations. Some 
commentators have supposed that Abimelech gave himself this name, 
or that it was given him by his mother's friends. But the whole con- 
struction of verses 30 — 32 implies that it was Gideon's act. The 
words, however, may be translated "father of a king, 5 ' in which case 
the name was only indicative of Gideon's prognostications of Abimelech's 
future greatness. 

32. died i?i a good old age] Cf. Gen. xv. 15, xxv. 8. The word 
translated old age is literally greyness of head. 

in the sepulchre of Joash his father] It is perhaps one of the minute 
touches indicative of the genuineness of the narrative, that here for the 
first time, now that the Israelites had been some time in the land of 
Canaan, do we hear of family burial-places. We may compare Josh, 
xxiv. 30, where Joshua is spoken of as being buried within the boundary 
of his own inheritance, clearly intimating that the choice of a sepulchre, 
in his case, had then to be made, as well as the fact that it was a 
suitable and natural one. 

33—35. Renewed Apostasy of Israel. 

33. as soon as Gideon was dead] The personal influence of a great 
man was sufficiently strong to retain Israel in the right way while he 

w. 34, 35; i.] JUDGES, VIII. IX. 127 

children of Israel turned again, and went a whoring after 
Baalim, and made Baal-berith their god. And the children 34 
of Israel remembered not the Lord their God, who had de- 
livered them out of the hands of all their enemies on every 
side : neither shewed they kindness to the house of Jerubbaal, 35 
namely, Gideon, according to all the goodness which he had 
shewed unto Israel. 

Ch. IX. 1 — 6. AbimelecJis usurpation. 
And Abimelech the son of Jerubbaal went to Shechem 9 

lived. But the principles of their austere and pure religion were not 
sufficiently rooted to enable them, without such aid, to withstand the 
seductions of the Phoenician worship. 

Baal-berith] i.e. Baal of the covenant; either (1) Baal the god of 
covenants, or (2) Baal with whom they had entered into covenant. See 
Dictionary of the Bible, Art. Baal. The downward steps of Israel to 
this worship may be clearly traced in the history of Micah and the 
Danites in chs. xvii., xviii. It began by the substitution of image 
worship for the ritual of the law, and ended by the substitution of Baal 
for Jehovah. Dr Cassel, however, thinks (3) that Baal-berith was the 
god of the covenant into which, contrary to the express command of 
Jehovah, the Israelites had entered with the Canaanites. Hengstenberg 
(4) supposes that a worship of Jehovah with the rites of Baal is meant 
— disobedience to the covenant in the garb of faithfulness. 

35. Jerubbaal, namely, Gideon] Perhaps, better, Jerubfoaal-Gideon, 
the two names being here conjoined, the one to denote the man, the 
other the acts for which he deserved to be remembered in Israel. 

Ch. IX. 1 — 6. Abimelech's usurpation. 

1. Shechem] This city was marked out by its situation as well as its 
previous history, as one of the chief cities of Israel. Its situation 
between Ebal and Gerizim, in a valley of rare beauty, has attracted the 
notice even of travellers such as Dr Petermann, who seem generally some- 
what inaccessible to the charms of natural scenery. Canon Tristram and 
Dr Thomson {Land and The Book, p. 470) both describe it in glowing 
language. And when we consider its antecedents at this period, we may 
well confess that no Jew, however obtuse, could regard them with ab- 
solute indifference. For here God first appeared to Abraham in the land 
promised to him so long before, and now occupied by his descendants 
(Gen. xii. 6), and here his first altar was built. Here Jacob bought the 
second piece of ground possessed by his family in the land hereafter to be 
inhabited by his descendants (Gen. xxxiii. 18, 20). Here was the fierce 
revenge taken by his sons for the insult offered to their sister's honour 
(Gen. xxxiv.). Here (see also note on v. 6) did Jacob renew the covenant 
which his fathers had made with God (Gen. xxxv. 4). Here Joshua 
(Josh. viii. 32) wrote the "copy of the law" which he had been ordered 

123 JUDGES, IX. [v. 2. 

unto his mother's brethren, and communed with them, and 
with all the family of the house of his mother's father, 
2 saying, Speak, I pray you, in the ears of all the men of She- 
chem, Whether is better for you, either that all the sons of 
Jerubbaal, which are threescore and ten persons, reign over 
you, or that one reign over you ? remember also that I am 

to inscribe between Gerizim and Ebal, and the writing was no doubt 
fresh and clear in the days of Abimelech. Here, too, though Israel 
had possibly in Abimelech's days no desire to recal this incident too 
clearly (see vv. 4, 46), did the aged chieftain make his last fervent 
appeal to the people to stand firm to the covenant which God had made 
with them (Josh. xxiv.). In after history it retained much of its im- 
portance. We hear of it in the N.T. under the name Sychar. And 
under the name of Nablous (Neapolis) it is still one of the most flourish- 
ing towns of Central Palestine, and is the seat of the Samaritan worship. 

2. the men of Shechem~\ Rather, the lords (Hebrew Baals) of 
Shechem. They have been thought to be (1) the Canaanitish inhabi- 
tants, (2) the citizens of the town generally. We must dismiss (1) from 
the fact that the Ephraimites (in which tribe Shechem was situate) had 
reduced the Canaanites to a position of vassalage (Josh. xvi. 10, xvii. 13) 
instead of destroying them utterly, and we do not hear, whatever the 
subjection of Israel under the power of other nations, that the Canaanites 
ever recovered their supremacy. Thus it appears most likely (3) that 
the lords of Shechem were the Israelite inhabitants, just as for a long 
period in our own history the barons were almost exclusively of Norman 
descent. This view derives additional probability from the fact that 
Abimelech would hardly have made use of his kindred to obtain 
sovereignty in Shechem had they not been of the ruling class (see v. 1). 
Nor could he have said in any other case "I am your bone and your 
flesh." Nor does Jotham's contemptuous reference to Abimelech's mother 
{v. 18) prove any more than Michal's equally contemptuous reference 
to David's other wives (see Blunt's Coincidences, Pt. II. VII.) in 2 Sam. 
vi. 20; cf. 22. A princess of our own day might possibly use similar 
language of her maids of honour if an attempt were made to place them 
on an equality with herself. For the expression see ch. xx. 5 ; also 
Josh. xxiv. 11. 

reign over yoii\ Rather, rule. Some commentators have doubted 
whether Gideon's sons could have ruled over or even aspired to rule 
over the people of Israel, as thus implied. But we may compare the 
authority exercised by the sons of Jair (ch. x. 4) and the sons of Samuel 
(1 Sam. viii. 1). No doubt the respect in which Gideon was held, and 
the position that respect secured for him, gained a similar one for his 
sons. Though their position was not a strictly regal one, yet it was 
doubtless one of great authority and influence. And Abimelech, as the 
son of a wife of lower social position (see note on ch. viii. 31), was in- 
censed that he was not permitted to share this authority, and no doubt 
in his language to the people of Shechem exaggerated, as is usual in such 

vv. 3—6.] JUDGES, IX. 129 

your bone and your flesh. And his mother's brethren spake 3 
of him in the ears of all the men of Shechem all these 
words : and their hearts inclined to follow Abimelech ; for 
they said, He is our brother. And they gave him three- 4 
score and ten pieces of silver out of the house of Baal-berith, 
wherewith Abimelech hired vain and light persons, which 
followed him. And he went unto his father's house at Oph- 5 
rah, and slew his brethren the sons of Jerubbaal, being 
threescore and ten persons, upon one stone: notwithstanding 
yet Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left ; for he 
hid himself. And all the men of Shechem gathered together, 6 
and all the house of Millo, and went, and made Abimelech 
king, by the plain of the pillar that was in Shechem. 

cases, the extent of the power which he was not permitted to share. 
Had Gideon's sons not exercised such authority, it is very difficult to 
see the force of Abimelech's argument that he should be made king, or 
rather ruler. 

3. men] Rather, lords, as above. And so throughout the chapter. 

4. out of the house of Baal-berith'] Temple treasures (says Bertheau) 
were frequently applied to political purposes (see 1 Kings xv. 18; 
2 Kings xviii. 15, 16). 

vain and light persons] The first word is the "Raca" of the Sermon 
on the Mount, and signifies empty. The second, derived from a word 
signifying to boil up, is rather violent, ox furious, than light. The idea 
is of men entirely without principle, and ready for any desperate under- 
taking, like the famous Free Companies in the Middle Ages, or the soldiers 
of fortune who hired themselves out to fight in the Thirty Years' War. 
A vivid picture of the last will be found in Wallenstein's Lager, by Schiller, 
and a far too favourable one in Sir Walter Scott's Dugald Dalgetty. 

5. threescore and ten persons] Although Jotham is immediately 
afterwards excepted, the Hebrew states that threescore and ten persons 
were slain. This is the usual Hebrew mode of expression (cf. 1 Sam. 
xvi. 10). Nothing is more common in the East than such massacres of 
the reigning family. We read of them in Scripture again in 1 Kings 
xv. 29; 2 Kings x. 6 and xi. 1. In later history we may find a striking 
parallel in the massacre of the Ommiad race (see Gibbon, Decline and 
Fall, ch. lii.), with its one survivor. Machiavelli, II Principe, ch. viii., 
has palliated conduct like this by the maxim that it is more politic to 
exercise cruelty at once than to allow oneself to be driven to it by cir- 
cumstances which wilt certainly arise. So Dido excuses herself for 
a very much slighter offence : 

Res dura et regni novitas me talia cogunt 

Moliri. Virg. Aen. I. 562. 

6. Millo] A name for a rampart ; so called because it consisted of 
walls filed in with stones and earth. Cf. 2 Sam. v. 9; 1 Kings ix. 15. 


JUDGES, IX. [vv. 7—9. 

7 — 21. Jothatrts appeal, 
7 And when they told it to Jotham, he went and stood in 

the top of mount Gerizim, and lift up his voice, and cried, 

and said unto them, Hearken unto me, you men of Shechem, 
s that God may hearken unto you. The trees went forth on 

a time to anoint a king over them ; and they said unto the 
9 olive tree, Reign thou over us. But the olive tree said unto 

them, Should I leave my fatness, wherewith by me they 

made Abimelech king] Apparently only of Shechem and the neigh- 
bourhood; but perhaps of the whole tribe of Ephraim. 

the plain of the pillar] Rather, the oak of the pillar, or monu- 
ment, i.e. the stone set up by Joshua (Josh. xxiv. 26; cf. Gen. xxxv. 4). 
This stone, like many another memorial, was now put to uses sadly 
different from those which it was intended to serve. 

7 — 21. Jotham's appeal. 

7. Gerizim] The mount upon which the blessings commanded by 
Moses (Deut. xi. 29, and xxvii. 12) were to be recited. See also Josh, 
viii. 33. Shechem lay at its base. It was afterwards famous as the site 
of the celebrated temple erected by the Samaritans in rivalry with that 
at Jerusalem (St John iv. 20). It rises to a height of 2848 feet above 
the Mediterranean. "The long backbone of Palestine — its bisect- 
ing mountain .range — is here cleft in twain, and a deep valley, in places 
scarcely more than 500 yards wide, is sunk 800 feet below the enclosing 
mountains of Ebal to the north and Gerizim to the south." Tristram, 
Bible Places, 181. Travellers tell us that the voice of persons speak- 
ing on Gerizim can be distinctly heard on Ebal, and therefore of course 
in the intervening space. See Thomson, The Land and the Book, 11. 
209; Tristram, Land of Israel, p. 149. 

that God may hearken] Or, and God will hearken. 

8. The trees went forth] Cf. 2 Kings xiv. 9. This, the first para- 
ble recorded in Scripture, is in accordance with almost an universal 
fashion in the infancy of nations, in which lessons were usually incul- 
cated in a figurative form, bringing the imagination, which is usually 
earlier developed, to the aid of the reason. The parable is still largely 
in use among Oriental nations. Its employment so frequently by our 
Lord is at once a sign of His desire to be understood by the simplest of 
mankind, and a cause of the ready acceptance of His doctrine among 
the poor and uneducated. We need not suppose, as some of the Rabbis 
have done, that particular persons (as Othniel, Deborah, Gideon) are 
here indicated, to whom the sovereignty was offered in turn, but rather 
to understand the general principle, that only self-seeking and worthless 
men soug ht such a n honour, and that their schemes of aggrandisement 
could only endh'nV strife and bloodshed. On the contrary, honourable, 
useful, and influential men, typified by the olive, fig, and vine respec- 
tively, alike declined the perilous dignity of the crown. 

vv. 10—16.] JUDGES, IX. 131 

honour God and man, and go to be promoted over the 
trees ? And the trees said to the fig tree, Come thou, and 10 
reign over us. But the fig tree said unto them, Should n 
I forsake my sweetness, and my good fruit, and go to be 
promoted over the trees ? Then said the trees unto the 12 
vine, Come thou, and reign over us. And the vine said 13 
unto them, Should I leave my wine, which cheereth God 
and man, and go to be promoted over the trees? Then 14 
said all the trees unto the bramble, Come thou, and reign 
over us. And the bramble said unto the trees, If in truth 15 
ye anoint me king over you, then come and put your trust 
in my shadow: and if not, let fire come out of the bramble, 
and devour the cedars of Lebanon. Now therefore, if ye 16 
have done truly and sincerely, in that ye have made Abime- 

9. they honour God and man] "His oil consecrates kings and 
priests and feeds the light which burns in the sanctuary of God" (Cassel). 
See Exod. xxvii. 20, xxix. 7, xxx. 22 — 33; Levit. viii. 2, xxiv. 2. 

go to be promoted] The word means literally to move unsteadily 
about; to stagger ■, as in Ps. cvii. 27, to shake, as the leaves of a tree, 
Is. vii. 2. Here it refers to the instability of worldly greatness, or per- 
haps, as some suppose, to the distractions and cares of royalty. So in 
verses 11 and 13. 

11. fruit] Perhaps rather produce. 

13. wine] Heb. tirosh. This word is rendered wine 26 times and 
new wine 1 1 times in our version. See Hos. iv. 4, where it is specially 
distinguished from wine. Also note on ch. xiii. 4. 

God and ma>i] This is a strong poetic hyperbole. It cannot be 
understood literally, save' so far as we may believe that God rejoiceth in 
the gladness of His creatures, when it is innocent. 

14. bra??ible] Heb. Atad. The species is not correctly ascertained, 
but Canon Tristram (Land of Israel, p. 149) says that the bramble is to 
be found in the neighbourhood of Shecheni, clinging to the rocks, and 
that this, with the olives and figs growing in the valley, must have 
given point to Jotham's parable. The thistle of the margin must be 
given up. The trees could hardly "put their trust in its shadow." 

15. let fire come out of the bramble] The application of this is to be 
seen in v. 20. The consequence of setting a worthless person like 
Abimelech over them would be misery to persons better than himself. 
"Thorns easily catch fire" (Keil, who refers to Exod. xxii. 6). And 
so the worst men are the most certain causes of mischief. 

cedars of Lebanon] The noblest trees in Palestine. See Ps. xxix. 5, 
lxxx. 10, civ. 16; Ezek. xxxi. 3 — 9. They are gradually disappearing 
now, though they may still be found in the more inaccessible parts of 
the Lebanon range. See Tristram, Land of Israel, pp. 625, 631. 

Q— 2 

132 JUDGES, IX. [vv. 17—23. 

lech king, and if ye have dealt well with Jerabbaal and his 
house, and have done unto him according to the deserving 

17 of his hands; (for my father fought for you, and adventured 
his life far, and delivered you out of the hand of Midian: 

18 and ye are risen up against my father's house this day, and 
have slain his sons, threescore and ten persons, upon one 
stone, and have made Abimelech, the son of his maidservant, 
king over the men of Shechem, because he is your brother;) 

19 if ye then have dealt truly and sincerely with Jerubbaal and 
with his house this day, then rejoice ye in Abimelech, and 

20 let him also rejoice in you : but if not, let fire come out 
from Abimelech, and devour the men of Shechem, and the 
house of Millo; and let fire come out from the men of She- 
chem, and from the house of Millo, and devour Abimelech. 

21 And Jotham ran away, and fled, and went to Beer, and 
dwelt there, for fear of Abimelech his brother. 

22 — 33. GaaV s conspiracy. 

22 When Abimelech had reigned three years over Israel, then 

16. sincerely] Rather, fairly, the original idea being that of perfec- 
tion (so the LXX.) or blamelessness. So below, v. 19. 

Jei'ubbaal\ The name which was given to Gideon in commemora- 
tion of his boldness in destroying the altar of Baal, is here naturally 
preferred to any other name. 

deserving] The word sometimes has this sense, but perhaps it is 
better here labour. 

17. adventured his life far] The Hebrew is very vivid, caused to 
cast his life from before, i.e. flung it azvay, exposed it as a thing of 
no value. 

18. maid-servant] See notes on, ch. viii. 31, ix. 1. 

20. but if not] The event would shew whether they had done so 
or not. Nor was it long delayed. 

let fire come out froi?i the men of Shechem] Here Jotham in his ap- 
plication enlarges upon his parable. 

21. to Beer] As Beer signifies well, it is by no means surprising that 
there are several places mentioned in Scripture with such a name, and 
that this place cannot be identified. There is a Beeroth (wells) men- 
tioned in Josh, ix. 17, xviii. 25 as within the limits of the tribe of Ben- 

22—33. Gaal's conspiracy. 

22. When] Rather, and. 

had reigned] Lit. princed, i.e. held sway as a prince or chief- 
tain. The sacred writer here appears to imply that though he was 

vv. 24—27.] JUDGES, IX. 133 

God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the men 
of Shechem ; and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously 
with Abimelech : that the cruelty done to the threescore 24 
and ten sons of Jerubbaal might come, and their blood be 
laid upon Abimelech their brother, which slew them ; and 
upon the men of Shechem, which aided him in the killing of 
his brethren. And the men of Shechem set Hers in wait for 25 
him in the top of the mountains, and they robbed all that 
came along that way by them : and it was told Abime- 
lech. And Gaal the son of Ebed came with his brethren, 26 
and went over to Shechem : and the men of Shechem put 
their confidence in him. And they went out into the fields, 27 

called a king, he was in reality but a petty prince or chieftain. The 
tense in the original is the simple historical one, "and Abimelech 

23. Then] Rather, and. There are no precise marks of time in the 

God sent an evil spirit] Everything that happens by God's permis- 
sion is said to be done by Him in these historical books, a fact which 
may serve to explain many difficulties. In a sense it is perfectly true. 
From the day of Adam's fall, God's laws provided for the evolution 
from sin of its own dire effects, among which were its connection with 
similar rebellion on a vaster scale beyond this earth, of which Scripture 
gives us hints, but into which it does not fully enter. See 1 Sam. xvi. 
14, xviii. 10. Also 1 Kings xxii. 21, 23. 

24. cruelty] Or, violence. So Luther. Or we may translate with 
the LXX., injustice, zurong. Wiclif renders hidozvs gilt, 

aided him] Lit. as margin, strengthened his hands. 

25. for him] Not perhaps for him personally, but in consequence 
of his conduct, and to revenge themselves for it. Bad, oppressive go- 
vernment is universally the parent of brigandage, as we may see in our 
own days. And this is especially the case when the power or the will 
are lacking to put it down. Abimelech seems to have possessed the 
latter, but, as the event proved, not the former. Still, as it is evident, 
not only that he regarded this brigandage as a reproach to his govern- 
ment, but that the lords of Shechem knew that he would do so, Abi- 
melech, with all his ambition and cruelty, could hardly have been 
a tyrant of the worst description, but must be credited at least with 
some sense of the moral responsibility required in a ruler. He does 
not, however, appear to have taken action until the brigandage took the 
form of organized opposition to him personally. See next verse. 

26. Gaal the son of Ebed] Nothing further is known of Gaal than 
what we read in this chapter. 

went over] Apparently they crossed from the hill-tops in Shechem as 
they grew bolder by impunity. 
put their confidence] Rather, put confidence. 

134 JUDGES, IX. [vv. 28—31. 

and gathered their vineyards, and trode the grapes, and 
made merry, and went into the house of their god, and did 

28 eat and drink, and cursed Abimelech. And Gaal the son of 
Ebed said, Who is Abimelech, and who is Shechem, that we 
should serve him? is not he the son of Jerubbaal? and 
Zebul his officer ? serve the men of Hamor the father of 

29 Shechem : for why should we serve him ? And would to 
God this people were under my hand ; then would I remove 
Abimelech. And he said to Abimelech, Increase thine 

30 army, and come out. And when Zebul the ruler of the 
city heard the words of Gaal the son of Ebed, his anger was 

31 kindled. And he sent messengers unto Abimelech privily, 

' 27. made merry] Rather, made songs of rejoicing. Heb. hilloolim ; 
compare Hallelujah and the Hallel of the later Hebrews ; also our own 
halloo. It would seem by a comparison of Levit. xix. 23, 24, where the 
same word occurs, that the feast which Moses had ordained was 
now kept in honour, not of Jehovah, but of Baal-berith. See next note. 
All nations, however, have been accustomed to keep festival at vintage- 
time. Compare the festivals of Bacchus among the Romans and 
Dionysus among the Greeks, when the utmost licence was permitted; 
also Is. xvi. 10; Jer. xxv. 30. 

their god~\ An incidental, but very significant allusion to the com- 
pleteness with which the worship of Jehovah had been abandoned by 
the lords of Shechem. 

28. officer] Lit. overseer, or inspector. 

serve the men of Hamor the father of Shechem] See Gen. xxxiii. 19, 
andxxxiv. This passage is difficult. If we translate (1) as our version 
does, following the Masoretic text, we must understand the meaning to 
be "we might as well serve the men of Hamor the father of Shechem," 
i. e. the Canaanites, who, as we have seen, were the vassals of the lords 
of Shechem. But (2) the LXX. translates Is he not the son of Jerubbaal, 
and is not Zebul his officer his servant, with the men of Hamor the father 
of Shechem? Or (3) we may translate, with the Chaidee, Do not the son 
of Jerubbaal and Zebul his officer serve the men of Hamor? These two 
last translations recognize the tact that we is emphatic, a point which 
our translators have missed. The second translation gives the best 
sense, on the whole. The Vulgate and Luther render by a para- 

29. would to God] Lit. who will give, i.e. would that. God's Name 
is not introduced. 

30. ruler] The word is the same as in v. 22, where see note. 

31. privily] Some commentators prefer the marginal reading "in 
Tormah." But had this been the true rendering we should have had 
"to," not "in," Tormah. The Alexandrian MS. of the LXX. renders 
"yuerd 8cbpa)v" but this is clearly a mistake, perhaps, however, for fiera 
dbXov, which is the translation of some ancient versions. 

vv. 32-38.] JUDGES, IX. 135 

saying, Behold, Gaal the son of Ebed and his brethren be 
come to Shechem ; and behold, they fortify the city against 
thee. Now therefore up by night, thou and the people that 32 
is with thee, and lie in wait in the field : and it shall be, that 33 
in the morning, as soon as the sun is up, thou shalt rise 
early, and set upon the city : and behold, when he and 
the people that is with him come out against thee, then 
mayest thou do to them as thou shalt find occasion. 

34 — 45. GaaVs defeat. 

And Abimelech rose up, and all the people that were with 34 
him, by night, and they laid wait against Shechem in four 
companies. And Gaal the son of Ebed went out, and stood 35 
in the entering of the gate of the city: and Abimelech rose 
up, and the people that were with him, from lying in wait. 
And when Gaal saw the people, he said to Zebul, Behold, 36 
there come people down from the top of the mountains. And 
Zebul said unto him, Thou seest the shadow of the moun- 
tains as if they were men. And Gaal spake again and said, 37 
See there come people down by the middle of the land, 
and another company come along by the plain of Meo- 
nenim. Then said Zebul unto him, Where is now thy 38 
mouth, wherewith thou saidst, Who is Abimelech, that we 

fortify] Rather, are stirring up. Hence the necessity for prompt 
measures, such as Zebul goes on to recommend. 

33. set upoii\ Lit. spread out upon, spoken of the deploying into 
battle array of troops cooped up in ambush. See v. 44 and ch. xx. 37. 

34 — 45. Gaal's defeat. 

34. companies'] See ch. vii. 16, note. 

35. entering] Lit. door. 

36. Thou seest the shadow] Zebul's object is to lull the suspicions 
of the fool-hardy Gaal until it is too late to close the gates of the city 
and offer effectual resistance. 

37. middle] The LXX. and Vulgate render navel, as margin. But 
Gesenius and the Targum render elevated portion. 

plain of Meonenini\ The word translated plain is properly oak. 
Meonenim is the participle of a verb signifying to use occult arts. Hence 
the proper translation is the oak of the sorcerers. 

38. Then said Zebul] The near approach of Abimelech's troops 
enabled Zebul to throw off the mask, for he knew that Gaal would have 
difficulty enough in collecting his adherents to meet Abimelech, without 
wasting time in strife with himself. 

136 JUDGES, IX. [vv. 39— 45. 

should serve him ? is not this the people that thou hast de- 

39 spised? go put, I pray now, and fight with them. And Gaal 
went out before the men of Shechem, and fought with Abime- 

40 lech. And Abimelech chased him, and he fled before him, 
and many were overthrown and wounded, even unto the 

41 entering of the gate. And Abimelech dwelt at Arumah : 
and Zebul thrust out Gaal and his brethren, that they should 

42 not dwell in Shechem. And it came to pass on the mor- 
row, that the people went out into the field; and they told 

43 Abimelech. And he took the people, and divided them 
into three companies, and laid wait in the field, and looked, 
and behold, the people were come forth out of the city ; 

44 and he rose up against them, and smote them. And Abi- 
melech, and the company that was with him, rushed forward, 
and stood in the entering of the gate of the city : and the 
two other companies ran upon all the people that were in 

45 the fields, and slew them. And Abimelech fought against 

40. chased] Rather, pursued. The action was rather a rout than 
a battle. Gaal's hastily gathered band was no match for Abimelech's 
more disciplined army, so Gaal's men took to flight at the very com- 
mencement of the action. 

and niany were overthrown and wounded, even unto the entering of the 
gate] Rather, and there fell many wounded, up to the door of the 
gate. That is, Abimelech pursued them as far as the gate. Possibly 
he may have feared to trust his men in the narrow streets of an Oriental 
city, fearing the fate which eventually befel him. He left the city in 
Zebul's hands, and withdrew for the night, intending to take further 
vengeance on the morrow. 

41. dwelt at Arumah] Rather, abode, i.e. for that night. Arumah 
is not again mentioned, but from what follows it must have been just 
outside the city. 

and Zebul thrust out] Zebul was enabled to expel Gaal and the men 
who had fought on his side, but the temper of the city was nevertheless 
such that it would not have been wise for Abimelech to enter. 

42. into the field] They went out to their ordinary work, evidently 
presuming that with the expulsion of Gaal's adherents all was at an end. 
But Abimelech's revenge was not so easily satiated. 

43. were come] Rather, were coming. The meaning appears to be 
that as soon as the people began to go about their daily business in the 
fields, Abimelech posted his ambush. He then watched, and as more 
and more of the population came out, commenced the attack. 

44. rushed forward] See note on v. 33, where the word is trans- 
lated "set upon." In the latter part of this verse it is translated "ran 

vv. 46—49.] JUDGES, IX. 137 

the city all that day ; and he took the city, and slew the 
people that was therein, and beat down the city, and sowed 
it with salt. 

46 — 5 7. Abimelech y s further campaign and death. 
And when all the men of the tower of Shechem heard 46 
that, they entered into a hold of the house of the god 
Berith. And it was told Abimelech, that all the men of 47 
the tower of Shechem were gathered together. And 48 
Abimelech gat him up to mount Zalmon, he and all the 
people that were with him; and Abimelech took an axe in 
his hand, and cut down a bough from the trees, and took 
it, and laid it on his shoulder, and said unto the people that 
were with him, What ye have seen me do, make haste, and 
do as I have done. And all the people likewise cut down 49 
every man his bough, and followed Abimelech, and put them 
to the hold, and set the hold on fire upon them ; so that all 

45. sowed it with salt] Not, as some commentators have thought, 
in order to make it unfruitful, for the operation must have been carried 
on upon a somewhat large scale to have brought about such a result, 
but to indicate that it should be desolate for ever, like the well-known 
salt desert beside the Dead Sea. But the difference between Abimelech's 
pseudo- prophecy here and Joshua's denunciation against Jericho (Josh, 
vi. 26) is very remarkable at the present time. Shechem is still a 
tolerably flourishing town. Jericho is a collection of dirty huts. 

46—57. Abimelech's further campaign and death. 

46. the men of the tower of Shechem] Lit. the lords of the tower of 
Shechem. Probably the dwellers in the keep, or rather citadel, ap- 
parently some of the chief among the lords. 

hold] The meaning of this word, which only occurs here and in 
1 Sam. xiii. 6 (where it is translated high places), signifies something 
lofty in height, whether artificial, as here, or natural, as in the other 
passage cited. There it no doubt signifies the topmost portions of 
almost inaccessible rocks. Here it means the upper chambers of a 
lofty tower. 

47. were gathered together] Not, in this case, with a hostile purpose, 
as in the A.V., ch. iv. 13, vi. 33 (where the words are not the same as 
here), but for refuge. 

48. Zalmon] Cf. Ps. lxviii. 15. This is supposed to be Jebel 
Suleiman, south of Gerizim. 

an axe] Lit. the axes, i. e. for himself and others, he being supposed 
to do what they did, because he commanded it. This is an example of 
what is called construcho praegnans in grammar. 

49. hold] See above, v. 46. 

133 JUDGES, IX. [vv. 50-54. 

the men of the tower of Shechem died also, about a thousand 
men and women. 

50 Then went Abimelech to Thebez, and encamped against 

51 Thebez, and took it. But there was a strong tower within 
the city, and thither fled all the men and women, and all 
they of the city, and shut it to them, and gat them up to 

52 the top of the tower. And Abimelech came unto the tower, 
and fought against it, and went hard unto the door of the 

53 tower to burn it with fire. And a certain woman cast a 
piece of a millstone upon Abimelech's head, and all to brake 

54 his skull. Then he called hastily unto the young man his 
armour-bearer, and said unto him, Draw thy sword, and slay 
me, that men say not of me, A woman slew him. And his 

50. Thebez] Eusebius and Jerome, in the Onomasticon (see also 
Robinson, Biblical Researches, II. 317; Ritter, Geography of Palestine, 
II. 341), identify this with Tubas, thirteen miles north of Shechem. 
The latest explorers (see Conder's Handbook, and Tristram, Bible Places, 
p. 196) confirm this view. No doubt the inhabitants of Thebez formed 
part of Abimelech's kingdom, and had been implicated in Gaal's rebel- 

51. a strong tower] Lit. a tower of strength. See note on v. 46. 
they of the city] Rather, the lords of the city. See note on v. 2. 

to the top] Rather, upon the roof. See ch. xvi. 27, and Josh. ii. 
6, 8. 

52. hard imto] The meaning is close unto, as in the well-known 
phrase "hard by." See Ps. lxiii. 8; Acts xviii. 7, &c. 

to burn it with fire] Thus repeating his successful attempt to storm 
the stronghold at Shechem, but with a very different result. 

53. a piece of a millstone] Heb. a millstone rider, i.e. what is called 
in English the runner, the upper millstone, which revolves, while the 
lower is fixed. The nether millstone is mentioned in Job xli. 24 
(Heb. 16). 

all to brake] That is, completely broke {fractured, Heb.). See 
Nares' Glossary (Halliwell and Wright's Ed.) : 

In the various bustle of resort 
Were all to-ruffled and sometimes impaired. 

Milton, Comus, 380. 
Compare the German zu in composition. 

his skull] Heb. Gulgaltho, for the more usual Gulgoltho. Readers 
of the English New Testament will not fail to recognize the familiar 
Golgotha of Matt, xxvii. 33. The original meaning is anything rounded. 
Compare Gilgal. See the allusion to this incident in 2 Sam. xi. 21. 

54. that men say not of me] An instance of "the ruling passion 
strong in death." Abimelech had been a warrior, and lived among 
warriors, and dreaded above all the reproach of dying by a woman's 

w. 55-57; i-] JUDGES, IX. X. 139 

young man thrust him through, and he died. And when 55 
the men of Israel saw that Abimelech was dead, they de- 
parted every man unto his place. Thus God rendered the 56 
wickedness of Abimelech, which he did unto his father, in 
slaying his seventy brethren : and all the evil of the men of 57 
Shechem did God render upon their heads : and upon them 
came the curse of Jotham the son of Jerubbaal. 

Ch. X. 1 — 5. The judgeship of Tola and Jair. 
And after Abimelech there arose to defend Israel Tola 10 

hand. Cf. ch. iv. 9. "So vaine fooles are niggardly of their reputation 
and prodigall of their soules." Bp. Hall. 

thrust him through} Compare the readiness of the young man to 
slay the petty king of Shechem with the feeling in reference to the 
choice of all Israel, 1 Sam. xxxi. 3; 2 Sam. i. 10, 14 — 16. "How 
much more beautiful is the tragical death of Saul ! His attendant, 
influenced by reverence, refuses to kill him, and finally follows him in 
voluntary death. The songs of David cultivate his memory : Abime- 
lech's epitaph is his brother Jotham's curse." Cassel. 

57. and tipon them ca?ne the curse of yotham the son of yerubbaat\ 
It is the peculiarity of the Scripture narrative that it clearly discerns 
the finger of God in all that is done. No secondary causes are allowed 
to blind the eyes of the reader to the fact that a personal God is carry- 
ing on His moral government of the world. Nor is the observation on 
Jotham's curse an encouragement to superstitious views of the power of 
curses. Abimelech's curse on Shechem (see v. 45) "came home to 
roost." Abimelech and the men of Shechem were not destroyed be- 
cause Jotham had cursed them, but because the curse was deserved. 
They had brought it upon themselves by their ingratitude and ill-doing, 
and it would have come upon them whether it had been pronounced by 
Jotham or not. We may observe again here that Jerubbaal, not Gideon, 
is the name given to Jotham's father, because it was not the man, but 
his deed, that the history desires to bring to our notice. 

Ch. X. 1—5. The judgeship of Tola and Jair. 
1. to defend} Literally, to save. There is no need to imagine that 
Israel was reduced to the condition it was in when Gideon arose. It is 
sufficient to suppose that such a state of things would have taken place, 
had not a capable administrator arisen, who was placed at the head of 
affairs. The orderly condition of society resulting from his administra- 
tion would of itself tend to keep marauders at a distance. The cessa- 
tion of Danish incursions (save in the case of a disputed succession) 
between Alired and Ethelred the Unready in our own annals supplies 
us with a case in point. Kings like Edgar maybe said to have "saved" 
England from the incursions of the Danes, even though no very formid- 
able landing occurred in their reigns. 

140 JUDGES, X. [vv. 2—5. 

the son of Puah, the son of Dodo, a man of Issachar ; and 

2 he dwelt in' Shamir in Mount Ephraim. And he judged 
Israel twenty and three years, and died, and was buried in 

3 And after him arose Jair, a Gileadite, and judged Israel 

4 twenty and two years. And he had thirty sons that rode on 
thirty ass colts, and they had thirty cities, which are called 
Havoth-jair unto this day, which are in the land of Gilead. 

5 And Jair died, and was buried in Camon. 

Tola the son of PuaK\ Nothing more is known of either of these, 
save that their names appear to have been family names in the tribe of 
Issachar. See Gen. xlvi. 13 (and margin). 

Dodo] The ancient versions all translate of his uncle, which is cor- 
rect as far as the Hebrew goes, but is absurd here. The Vulgate sup- 
plies Abimelech from the first part of the verse. But Abimelech was 
not of the tribe of Issachar. The fact is that Dodo was not an uncom- 
mon proper name. See 2 Sam. xxiii. 9; 1 Chron. xi. 12. . 

a man of Issachar] The organic unity of Israel, though it had been 
disturbed, was not yet broken up. 

Shamir] All that is known of this is that it could not be identical with 
the Shamir of Josh. xv. 48, which was in Judah. 

3. Jair, a Gileadite] Literally, the Gileadite. Here again we see 
that in spite of the conduct of the Israelites beyond Jordan to Gideon, 
the unity of Israel was, as yet, not altogether destroyed. The first 
to feel the effects of national disintegration would be the tribes beyond 

4. Havoth-jair] See-Numb, xxxii. 41; Deut. iii. 14. There is no 
contradiction between the two statements. No doubt the distinguished 
position of the sons of the judge caused an old name to be revived. It 
is not said that they were first called Havoth-jair from this cause, but 
that it was for this reason that they continued to be called so until the 
time that this book was written. Havoth signifies villages (properly 
living places). Jair the son of Manasseh appears to have inherited 
a place in the tribe of Manasseh through the female line, like the chil- 
dren of Zelophehad (Numb, xxxvi., Josh. xvii. 2 — 6), for we find from 
1 Chron. ii. 22 that he was of Judah by the father's side. Hence 
the explanation of the otherwise inexplicable phrase, "Judah upon 
Jordan," in Josh. xix. 34 (cf. Matt. xix. 1, and Josephus, Antiq. XII. 
4, 11). 

5. Camon] Nothing further is known of this place, though it may 
be Jokneam of Carmel (Josh. xii. 22; r Kings iv. 12, where we have 
Jokmea?n), for this has been identified with the Cammona of Eusebius 
and Jerome, the Cyamon of Judith vii. 3, now Tell-el-Kaimun, on the 
southern slopes of Mount Carmel. It is not at all improbable that Jair, 
after he became judge, found it more convenient to reside on the west- 
ern side of the Jordan, and that he was buried where he had lived. 

W.6-IO.] JUDGES, X. 141 

6 — 9. Renewed apostasy of Israel. 
And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight 6 
of the Lord, and served Baalim, and Ashtaroth, and the 
gods of Syria, and the gods of Zidon, and the gods of Moab, 
and the gods of the children of Amnion, and the gods of 
the Philistines, and forsook the Lord, and served not him. 
And the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and 7 
he sold them into the hands of the Philistines, and into 
the hands of the children of Ammon. And that year they a 
vexed and oppressed the children of Israel : eighteen years, 
all the children of Israel that were on the other side Jordan 
in the land of the Amorites, which is in Gilead. Moreover 9 
the children of Ammon passed over Jordan to fight also 
against Judah, and against Benjamin, and against the house 
of Ephraim ; so that Israel was sore distressed. 

10 — 18. The repentance of Israel and steps taken towards 

And the children of Israel cried unto the Lord, saying, We 10 
6 — 9. Renewed apostasy of Israel. 

6. the gods of Syria] We are not told what their names were, but 
they did not differ much from the gods of Phoenicia already mentioned. 
The gods of Sidon were Phoenician deities. 

7. was hot] Or, was kindled. 

8. that year] The year in which God "sold them into the hands " 
of their enemies. Probably also the year of Jair's death. The expression 
strongly suggests the idea that this history was compiled from a record 
like the Saxon Chronicle. 

vexed and oppressed] Literally, broke and crushed, the latter term 
being an intensification of the former. 

on the other side Jordan] These bore the brunt of the oppression, though 
(see next verse) it extended to a less degree over the whole of Israel. 
The Philistine oppression did not reach its height till the days of Samson. 

the land of the Amorites, which is in Gilead] Sihon and Og, the two 
monarchs whom Israel dispossessed on the other side Jordan, are said 
to have been Amorites (Numb. xxi. 31; Deut. iii. 8). Part of Gilead 
belonged to Og (Deut. iii. 13; Josh. xiii. 31), and was given to Gad and 
the half tribe of Manasseh (Josh. xiii. 25, 31). See also 1 Chron. v. 10, 
16, 23. The first of these verses implies that the Reubenites had a 
nomadic colony in Gilead. 

10 — 18. The repentance of Israel and steps taken towards 
10. And the children of Israel cried unto the Lord] As in ch. iii. 
9> *5, *»■ 7- 

H2 JUDGES, X. [vv. ii— 1 6. 

have sinned against thee, both because we have forsaken our 

ri God, and also served Baalim. And the Lord said unto the 

children of Israel, Did not I deliver you from the Egyptians, 

and from the Amorites, from the children of Amnion, and 

12 from the Philistines ? The Zidonians also, and the Amale- 
kites, and the Maonites, did oppress you; and ye cried to 

13 me, and I delivered you out of their hand. Yet ye have for- 
saken me, and served other gods: wherefore I will deliver 

14 you no more. Go and cry unto the gods which ye have 
chosen ; let them deliver you in the time of your tribulation. 

is And the children of Israel said unto the Lord, We have 
sinned: do thou unto us whatsoever seemeth good unto 

16 thee ; deliver us only, we pray thee, this day. And they put 
away the strange gods from among them, and served the 
Lord: and his soul was grieved for the misery of Israel. 

Baalim] Literally, the Baalim, i.e. the various false gods mentioned 
v. 6. 

11. Did not I deliver you?] The words added in our version are 
necessary to complete the sense, which is deficient in the original. The 
occasion of the deliverance from Egypt is well known. The deliverance 
from the Amorites relates to the overthrow of Sihon and Og (Numb, 
xxi., xxiv. ). The children of Ammon joined the Moabites in their 
oppression (ch. iii. 13). The Philistines must have been invading southern 
Israel in the days of Shamgar (ch. iii. 31). The Zidonians must have 
joined in Jabin's tyranny (ch. iv. 2, 3), and this may have been the 
reason of Asher's abstinence from the conflict (ch. v. 17). The Ama- 
lekites joined Eglon (ch. iii. 15) and Midian (ch. vi. 3). Maon appears 
to be a mistake for Midian, a mistake which would be easily made 
in the earlier Hebrew letters such as we find on the Moabite stone. 
Some copies of the LXX. substitute Cajtaan, but without authority. 

15. And the children of Israel said] As the conduct of Israel grows 
worse, the answer of Jehovah to their cries grows sterner. He is not 
content now with the expression of regret. He requires some visible 
sign that it is real. Not till His worship is duly re-established, and 
the worship of the wicked deities of Canaan abandoned, does He shew 
mercy to them. True repentance is ever discerned, not by words, but 
by deeds. Israel's words here were submissive enough. Had they not 
been followed by the return to the pure faith of their forefathers, they 
would have been uttered in vain. 

16. strange gods] Perhaps better, with margin, the gods of the 

his soul was grieved] Or, i?npatient (lit. shortened}. This is one of 
the many instances of accommodation to human understanding in the 
way of speaking of God which are to be found in Scripture, 

vv. 17, 18; 1—3.] JUDGES, X. XL 143 

Then the children of Ammon were gathered together, and 17 
encamped in Gilead. And the children of Israel assembled 
themselves together, and encamped in Mizpeh. And the 18 
people and princes of Gilead said one to another, What man 
is he that will begin to fight against the children of Ammon ? 
he shall be head over all the inhabitants of Gilead. 

Ch. XL 1 — 11. Jephthati s antecedents and election to the 

Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty man of valour, 11 
and he was the son of a harlot : and Gilead begat Jeph- 
thah. And Gilead's wife bare him sons ; and his wife's sons 2 
grew up, and they thrust out Jephthah, and said unto him, 
Thou shalt not inherit in our father's house; for thou art 
the son of a strange woman. Then Jephthah fled from his 3 

17. were gathered together] See note on ch. iv. 13. 

encamped in Mizpeh] With repentance came fresh courage. Israel 
is gathered together to fight for her liberties, and only lacks a leader. 
Mizpeh, or Mizpah, according to the Hebrew, is the Ramath-mizpeh of 
Josh. xiii. 26. Vandevelde, identifies it with Ramoth-gilead (Josh. xx. 
8;,cf. Deut. iv. 43; 1 Kings xxii. 3, &c). But Ramath and Ramoth 
are common names, signifying height. And so is Mizpah, or Mizpeh, 
which signifies a watch tower. The latest explorers therefore distinguish 
between the two. There appears, however, little reason to doubt that 
this is the Mizpah of Gen. xxxi. 49. See also ch. xi. 29. 

18. the people and princes of Gilead] Rather, the people, the princes 
of Gilead, the latter words being in apposition to, and added in ex- 
planation of, the former. 

What ??ian is he] Or, zvho is the ma7i ? 

Ch. XI. 1 — 11. Jephthah's antecedents and election to the 


1. Jephthah] So the LXX. The Masorites read Jiphthah. See 
Josh. xix. 14. 

a mighty man of valour] See ch. vi. 12; 2 Kings v. 1. 

Gilead] Some have supposed that the land is personified in the 
person of Jephthah's father. But this is impossible from what follows 
in the next verse. Names often recurred in Jewish families. See note 
on Jair, ch. x. 3, and the genealogies in the book of Chronicles, 
especially chapters ii. and iv. 

2. they thrust out Jephthah] Bertheau refers to Gen. xxi. 10, 
xxv. 6. 

strange woman] Literally, other woman, but the term is not without a 
tinge of reproach. Compare the expression "other gods," ch. ii. 12, 

144 JUDGES, XL [vv. 4—9. 

brethren, and dwelt in the land of Tob : and there were 

4 gathered vain men to Jephthah, and went out with him. And 
it came to pass in process of time, that the children of Am- 

5 mon made war against Israel. And it was so, that when 
the children of Ammon made war against Israel, the elders 
of Gilead went to fetch Jephthah out of the land of Tob : 

6 and they said unto Jephthah, Come, and be our captain, 

7 that we may fight with the children of Ammon. And 
Jephthah said unto the elders of Gilead, Did not ye hate me, 
and expel me out of my father's house ? and why are ye 

8 come unto me now when ye are in distress ? And the 
elders of Gilead said unto Jephthah, Therefore we turn 
again to thee now, that thou mayest go with us, and fight 
against the children of Ammon, and be our head over all 

9 the inhabitants of Gilead. And Jephthah said unto the 
elders of Gilead, If ye bring me home again to fight against 
the children of Ammon, and the Lord deliver them before 

and elsewhere. Jephthah's birth was plainly more questionable than 
that of Abimelech. 

3. in the land of Tob] The words may he translated in a good land. 
But all the versions translate by a proper name, and v. 5 removes all 
doubt on the subject. Tob, according to 2 Sam. x. 6, 8, appears to 
have been a part of Syria adjacent to the north of Israel. See also 
1 Mace. v. 13; 2 Mace. xii. 17, where, if the land of Tob be meant, it 
was occupied by the Jews at that time. It might have been the Hauran, 
which we are told is the best land in Syria. 

vain men~\ See ch. ix. 4. 

4. in process of time] Literally, from, i.e. after, days. 

5. when the children of Ammon made war] That is, when the 
children of Israel had resolved to resist the incursions which they had 
borne for eighteen years. Compare ch. x. 8, with 18. With this agree 
the facts ( 1 ) that Jephthah was young when he was expelled from his 
father's house, and (2) that when he conducted his successful expedition 
against Ammon, he had a grown up daughter. See also v. 4. 

6. captain] See Josh. x. 24, where the word first occurs. They 
were evidently originally military officers, though the term is applied 
apparently to civil rulers in Is. i. 10, iii. 6, 7. 

7. and expel me] It is clear from this charge, and from the answer 
of the elders of Gilead, that they had power to have prevented the action 
of Jephthah's brothers. But Jephthah's mildness on this occasion, 
which contrasts with his usual temperament (cf. vv. 3, 30, and ch. xii. 4), 
indicates a consciousness that the stigma on his birth rendered it very 
difficult for them to have interfered. The regulation laid down in 
Deut. xxi. 15 — 17 did not apply to such a case as this. 

9. the Lord] We see from ch. x. 16, that the worship of God, not in 

vv. 10—13.] JUDGES, XI. 145 

me, shall I be your head ? And the elders of Gilead said 10 
unto Jephthah, The Lord be witness between us, if we do 
not so according to thy words. Then Jephthah went with » 
the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and 
captain over them : and Jephthah uttered all his words be- 
fore the Lord in Mizpeh. 

12 — 28. JephthaH *s negotiations. 
And Jephthah sent messengers unto the king of the 12 
children of Ammon, saying, What hast thou to do with 
me, that thou art come against me to fight in my land? 
And the king of the children of Ammon answered unto 13 
the messengers of Jephthah, Because Israel took away my 
land, when they came up out of Egypt, from Arnon even 
unto Jabbok, and unto Jordan : now therefore restore those 

the general sense, but as Jehovah the covenant God of Israel, had been 
restored. Hence Jephthah says Jehovah here, not Elohim, 

shall I be your head] The answer of the elders of Gilead seems to 
support the idea of those who would translate here I will be your head. 
The word "I" here is emphatic. 

10. be witness] Literally, is hearing, thus implying their belief in an 
ever-present deity. 

11. all his words] All that he had previously promised. 

before the Lord] There is no reason to suppose that the tabernacle 
had been removed across Jordan. Both Jephthah and the elders of 
Gilead were well aware (see note on last verse) that Jehovah was present 
with them. And these words were therefore spoken solemnly, as in His 
presence. For Mizpeh see note on ch. x. 1 7. 

12—28. Jephthah's negotiations. 

12. messengers] The word is the same as that translated angel in 
ch. ii. 1. 

What hast thou to do with me] Literally, what to me and thee? 
my land] The newly-appointed head speaks in the name of the land 
of which he has been made head. 

13. from Arnon eveii unto Jabbok] The Arnon (rushing stream) 
empties itself into the Dead Sea about midway down on the east 
side. See Numb. xxi. 13. The Jabbok (pourer, or emptier) rises in 
the mountains of Gilead, and empties itself into the Jordan near 
Zarthan (or Zaretan, see note on ch. vii. 22) and the city Adam (Josh, 
iii. 16). But how could Israel be said to have taken away this land? 
It was in the hands of Sihon (Numb. xxi. 24) when Israel took posses- 
sion of it. But a more careful study of the passage just cited will disclose 
what affords a colourable pretext for the assertion of the king of Ammon, 
quite enough to serve his purpose, according to the usual morality of 
State Papers. We read in Numb. xxi. 26 that Sihon had taken this land 


146 JUDGES, XI. [w. 14—18. 

14 lands again peaceably. And Jephthah sent messengers 

is again unto the king of the children of Ammon: and said 

unto him, Thus saith Jephthah, Israel took not away the 

16 land of Moab, nor the land of the children of Ammon : but 
when Israel came up from Egypt, and walked through the 

17 wilderness unto the Red sea, and came to Kadesh ; then 
Israel sent messengers unto the king of Edom, saying, Let 
me, I pray thee, pass through thy land : but the king of 
Edom would not hearken thereto. And in like manner 
they sent unto the king of Moab : but he would not con- 

18 sent : and Israel abode in Kadesh. Then they went along 
through the wilderness, and compassed the land of Edom, 
and the land of Moab, and came by the east side of the 
land of Moab, and pitched on the other side of Arnon, 

from the Moabites. And from v. 24 (with which compare ch. iii. 13) 
Moab and Amnion appear at this time to have been one power. Josh, 
xiii. 24 — 26 moreover assigns some portion of the disputed land to the 
Ammonites. We learn from Is. xv. and Jer. xlviii. that Moab ultimately 
recovered this territory. 

15. Israel took not azvay] They had received a special command 
not to do so, which, as Jephthah proceeds to shew, they scrupulously 

16. walked] Or, went. 

unto the Red sea] See Numb. xiv. 25; Deut. i. 40, ii. 1. 

Kadesh] Called also Kadesh-barnea, Josh. x. 41:, xv. 3. It was be- 
tween the wilderness of Zin and that of Paran. See Numb. xiii. 26, 
xx. 1, 16. Dean Stanley supposes it to be Petra, but it appears (Numb. 
xx. 22) to have been some distance from Mount Hor, whereas Petra lies 
at the foot of that mountain. Bartlett, a recent American explorer, 
following Rowlands, has supposed it to be Ain Gadis, which has been 
thought by some to be too far westward. Canon Tristram, however, 
in his latest work, as well as several other high authorities, supports Ain 
Gadis {Bible Places, p. 5). 

17. then Israel sent messengers] This passage, down to the word 
"land," is evidently taken from Numb. xx. 14, 17. "Israel," however, 
being substituted for "Moses," "from Kadesh" being omitted, as well 
as a considerable portion of the appeal, and the first person singular 
being substituted for the first person plural. 

would not hearken thereto] See Numb. xiv. 18 — 21. 
unto the king of Moab] There is no mention of this embassy to Moab 
in the Pentateuch. But it is implied in Deut. ii. 9. 

and Israel abode in Kadesh] A quotation. See Numb. xx. 1. 

18. compassed the land of Edom, and the land of Moab] See Numb. 
xx. 22, xxi. 4, 13. 

the other side of Arnon] Numb. xxi. 13. 

vv. 19—26.] JUDGES, XL 147 

but came not within the border of Moab : for Arnon was 
the border of Moab. And Israel sent messengers unto 19 
Sihon king of the Amorites, the king of Heshbon; and 
Israel said unto him, Let us pass, we pray thee, through thy 
land into my place. But Sihon trusted not Israel to pass 20 
through his coast : but Sihon gathered all his people to- 
gether, and pitched in Jahaz, and fought against Israel. 
And the Lord God of Israel delivered Sihon and all his 21 
people into the hand of Israel, and they smote them : 
so Israel possessed all the land of the Amorites, the in- 
habitants of that country. And they possessed all the 22 
coasts of the Amorites, from Arnon even unto Jabbok, and 
from the wilderness even unto Jordan. So now the Lord 23 
God of Israel hath dispossessed the Amorites from before 
his people Israel, and shouldest thou possess it? Wilt not 24 
thou possess that which Chemosh thy god giveth thee to 
possess ? So whomsoever the Lord our God shall drive 
out from before us, them will we possess. And now art 25 
thou any thing better than Balak the son of Zippor, king of 
Moab? did he ever strive against Israel, or did he ever 
fight against them, while Israel dwelt in Heshbon and her 26 
towns, and in Aroer and her towns, and in all the cities that 

for Amon was the border of Moab] Rather is the border. A quo- 
tation of Numb. xxi. 13. 

19. unto Sihon king of the Amorites] Another quotation from Numb, 
xxi. 31. Cf. Deut. ii. 26 — 32. 

Let us pass] Again a quotation, Numb. xxi. 32. 

20. Sihon gathered] This passage, to the end of the verse, is for 
the most part a literal quotation from the narrative in Numbers. 
Jephthah's message thus shews the Pentateuch to have been in existence 
in his day. 

Jahaz] See Numb. xxi. 23; Is. xv. 4; Jer. xlviii. 21. 

21. they smote the??t] Numb. xxi. 24, 25; Deut. ii. 33, 34. 

22. coasts] See note on ch. i. 18. 

the wilderness] The desert which lies on the east of this territory. 

24. Chemosh] Chemosh (see note on ch. x. 6) was the god of Moab. 
But Moab and Amnion seem at this time to have been under a common 

25. Balak the son of Zippor] See Numb. xxii. — xxi v. and Deut. 
xxiii. 3, 4. Balak was full of suspicion and fear, but he did not accuse 
the Israelites, as his successors now did, of having taken his land. 

26. towns] Literally, daughters, as in ch. i. 27. 

Aroer] Aroer of Reuben, since Jephthah is speaking of the territory 

10 2 

148 JUDGES, XI. [w. 27—33. 

be along by the coasts of Arnon, three hundred years ? why 

27 therefore did ye not recover them within that time ? Where- 
fore I have not sinned against thee, but thou doest me 
wrong to war against me : the Lord the Judge be judge this 
day between the children of Israel and the children of 

28 Ammon. Howbeit the king of the children of Amnion 
hearkened not unto the words of Jephthah which he sent 

29 — $$. Jephthah 's vow and victory. 

29 Then the spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah, and he 
passed over Gilead and Manasseh, and passed over Mizpeh 
of Gilead, and from Mizpeh of Gilead he passed over unto 

30 the children of Ammon. And Jephthah vowed a vow unto 
the Lord, and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the 

31 children of Ammon into mine hands, then it shall be, that 
whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet 
me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, 
shall surely be the Lord's and I will offer it up for a burnt 

32 offering. So Jephthah passed over unto the children of 
Ammon to fight against them ; and the Lord delivered 

33 them into his hands. And he smote them from Aroer, 

near the Arnon. See Josh. xiii. 16, 17. It is to be distinguished from 
Aroer which is before Rabbah, Josh. xiii. 25, which was within the 
territory of Gad. 

27. the Lord the Judge be judge'] Or, Jehovah, who judgeth, shall 


29. the spirit of the Lord] See ch. iii. 10. 

he passed over Gilead] He passed through the northern territory of 
Israel beyond Jordan to collect troops and then returned to his head- 
quarters at Mizpeh. 

30. vowed a vow] "It was his zeale to vow, it was his sinne to vow 
rashly." "Vowes are as they are made; like unto sents, if they be of 
ill composition, nothing offends more ; if well tempered, nothing is more 
pleasant." — Bp Hall. 

31. and L will offer it up for a burnt offering] There can be little 
doubt that Jephthah, in his eagerness, had in his mind a human sacrifice. 
The expression "that which cometh out of the doors of my house" 
could hardly have signified an animal. Therefore Jephthah no doubt 
had in his mind some one of his household, whom he probably expected 
would be ready to meet him on his return. He was terribly punished 
for his rash and cruel vow. 

vv. 34— 36.] JUDGES, XL 149 

even till thou come to Minnith, even twenty cities, and unto 
the plain of the vineyards, with a very great slaughter. Thus 
the children of Amnion were subdued before the children of 

34 — 40. The fate of Jephthah! s daughter. 

And Jephthah came to Mizpeh unto his house, and be- 34 
hold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and 
with dances : and she was his only child ; beside her he had 
neither son nor daughter. And it came to pass, when he 35 
saw her, that he rent his clothes, and said, Alas, my daughter, 
thou hast brought me very low, and thou art one of them 
that trouble me : for I have opened my mouth unto the 
Lord, and I cannot go back. And she said unto him, 36 
My father, if thou hast opened thy mouth unto the Lord, 

33. Minnith] This was probably a large corn-growing district in 
the Mishor, or table-land, east of Jordan. See Ezek. xxvii. 17. 

even twenty cities] That is, he smote twenty cities. 

the plain of the vineyards] Or rather meadow of the vineyards 
(Heb. Abel Ckeramim). Cf. ch. vii. 22; 2 Chron. xvi. 4. Where this 
was is not known. 

a very great slaughter] Literally, smiting. 

subdued] See ch. iii. 30. 

34—40. The fate of Jephthah's daughter. 

34. his house] Thus we learn that a suitable residence at Mizpeh 
had been placed at the disposal of their leader by the men of Gilead. 

timbrels and with dances] Like Miriam, Exod. xv. 20. See also 1 Sam. 
xviii. 6, xxi. 11, xxix. 5. The timbrel, sometimes translated tabret 
(Heb. toph), was identical with our modern tambourine or little drum. 

35. Alas, my daughter 7] It appears evident from this lamentation 
of Jephthah, and his daughter's reply, that the conception of Jehovah 
entertained by the Israelites at this time was much debased by the 
frequent relapses into idol worship. They had returned sincerely enough 
to the worship of Jehovah. But evil done is not undone in a moment. 
They might replace His worship, but they could not replace His image 
in their hearts. Hence Jephthah conceives of Him as the neighbouring- 
nations conceived of their gods. They were accustomed to offer living 
sacrifices (2 Kings iii. 27, xvi. 3; Micah vi. 7). He thought it only due 
gratitude to do the same. Jephthah ? s sincerity was unquestionable, but 
his ignorance was great. He had rashly vowed, and he believed that 
Jehovah strictly exacted from him the fulfilment of his vow. 

/ cannot go back] ■ ' An unlawful vow is ill made, but worse performed. 
It were pitty this constancy should light upon any but a holy object." — 
Bp. Hall. But see Numb. xxx. 2 ; Eccl. v. 4, 5. Also ch. xxi. 18. 

36. And she said unto him, My father] No language is sufficient to 

150 JUDGES, XL [v. 37. 

do to me according to that which hath proceeded out of 
thy mouth ; forasmuch as the Lord hath taken vengeance 
for thee of thine enemies, even of the children of Ammon. 
37 And she said unto her father, Let this thing be done for 
me : let me alone two months, that I may go up and down 
upon the mountains, and bewail my virginity, I and my 

do justice to the nobleness of this devoted woman. There are no la- 
mentations, save for the fact that her father's house would cease out of 
Israel. No reproach is uttered against her father for his rashness. She 
is quite content to yield her life, since Israel is avenged of his enemies 
by her father's hands. We may compare Jephthah's daughter with 
Iphigenia in heathen literature and the son of Idomeneus of Crete. ' See 
Art. in Smith's Classical Dictionary. 

do fo me according to that which hath proceeded out of thy mouth] 
These words admit of no other interpretation than that Jephthah's 
daughter consented to be offered up as a burnt offering. This was the 
universal opinion of earlier times. The historian Josephus entertains 
no doubt on the subject, nor would he have been likely to omit stating the 
fact if any such doubt had been entertained in his day. But he makes, on 
the contrary, some severe reflections on Jephthah's blind zeal and con- 
tempt for the institutions of his country. It was only when milder views 
began to be prevalent in the Middle Ages that some expressed doubts 
on the point. From this time forward some of the most learned Jewish 
Rabbis, as well as some of the greatest Christian expositors, have sup- 
posed that Jephthah's daughter simply dedicated herself to a life-long 
virginity. But in that case we should hardly expect the plain and un- 
mistakeable words in v. 39, "he did with her according to his vow which 
he had vowed," but rather some such words as those of 2 Sam. vi. 23. 
Again, as Hitzig remarks (Geschichte des Volkes Israel, p. 129), would 
Jephthah have been "so deeply cast down and grieved" if only a vow 
of celibacy were in question? Nor is it probable that the mere dedica- 
tion to a life of virginity, which must perforce have happened to many 
an Israelitish maiden, would have been regarded as of sufficient im- 
portance to have led to the institution of a yearly feast. Van Lennep, 
Bible Lands y 751, supposes that Jephthah was ignorant that a provision 
had been made in Levit. xxvii. 2 — 8 to meet the case of such unnatural 
vows. Ewald, as well as many other later authorities, adopts the view 
taken in this note. See Appendix. Note IV. 

37. let me alone two months'] If Jephthah were only devoting his 
daughter to a life of virginity, it is difficult to see why he should have 
been asked to put off for two months the-fulfilment of his vow. 

bewail my virginity] To be childless was a reproach among the 
Israelites. See 1 Sam. i., ii.; St Luke i. 25. And among other nations 
also. So Antigone bewails her virginity : 

aheKrpov, avvfjitixjuov, otire rov ydfiov 
fitpos \axov<Tai>, oiire ircudeiov Tpo(pyjs, 

Soph. Ant. 892, 3. 

vv.38— 40; i.] JUDGES, XI. XII. 151 

fellows. And he said, Go. And he sent her away for two 33 
months : and she went with her companions, and bewailed 
her virginity upon the mountains. And it came to pass at 39 
the end of two months, that she returned unto her father, 
who did with her according to his vow which he had vowed : 
and she knew no man. And it was a custom in Israel, that 40 
the daughters of Israel went yearly to lament the daughter 
of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in a year. 

Ch. XII. 1 — 7. Jephthatis strife with the Efhraimites. 
His death. 

And the men of Ephraim gathered themselves together, 12 

Compare Tennyson : 

No fair Hebrew boy 
Shall smile away my maiden blame among 
The Hebrew mothers. 

Dream of Fair Women. 

For a house to be blotted out of Israel was a judgment from God (Ps. 
cix. 13). Hence Jephthah 's daughter pathetically bewails the hard fate 
that has befallen, not herself, but her father's house, which came to an 
end with her. "As vestal virgin," Hitzig reminds us, "she had a whole 
life wherein to weep." 
fellows] Or, companions. 

39. and she knew no man] Or, and she had known no man. The 
tense is the perfect in the Hebrew which (see note on ch. i. 8, 10) often 
stands for the pluperfect. If this be the true rendering here, and the 
view taken in the preceding notes be correct, it is equivalent to "she 
died unmarried," or "without issue." If we take the rendering in our 
version, it implies that the dedication to perpetual virginity was the 
fulfilment of Jephthah's vow. 

a custom] The original is stronger, an ordinance. The word is 
frequently rendered into English by statute, which, however, would be 
too strong here. 

40. to lament] Rather, to praise, or celebrate. See ch. v. n. 

Ch. XII. 1 — 7. Jephthah's strife with the Ephraimites. 


1. And the men of Ephraim] See note on ch. viii. 1. Perhaps 
Jephthah the Gileadite, living as he did beyond Jordan, was less im- 
pressed with a sense of Ephraim's greatness than their neighbour Gideon 
the son of Joash. Ewald is very severe on those who " cross the Jordan 
in mere arrogance and lust of plunder, when the victory is won, to take 
vengeance, in his own country and in his own home, on the hero who 
dared conquer without them." 

gathered themselves] The original is stronger, and denotes deliberate 

152 JUDGES, XII. [vv. 2— 4. 

and went northward, and said unto Jephthah, Wherefore 
passedst thou over to fight against the children of Amnion, 
and didst not call us to go with thee? we will burn thine 

2 house upon thee with fire. And Jephthah said unto them, 
I and my people were at great strife with the children of 
Amnion ; and when I called you, ye delivered me not out 

3 of their hands. And when I saw that ye delivered me not, 
I put my life in my hands, and passed over against the 
children of Ammon, and the Lord delivered them into my 
hand : wherefore then are ye come up unto me this day, to 

4 fight against me ? Then Jephthah gathered together all the 
men of Gilead, and fought with Ephraim : and the men 
of Gilead smote Ephraim, because they said, Ye Gileadites 
are fugitives of Ephraim among the Ephraimites, and among 

action on the part of Ephraim as a tribe. Were called together. See 
ch. iv. 12. 

northward] Or, to Zaphon in the land of Gad (Josh. xiii. 27). 
This is the most probable rendering, for nothing is said about crossing 
the Jordan. Yet it is clear from v. 5 that the battle was fought on the 
east side of Jordan. The Talmud regards Zaphon as the same as 
Amathus, the modern Amata on the Wady Rajib. 

we will burn thine house] Impunity often begets insolence, and inso- 
lence chastisement. Had Gideon met the claims of Ephraim less hum- 
bly, their spirit might have been abated before this. But whereas they 
only "chode with Gideon sharply," they now proceed to threats of 
violence, and meet with a punishment which effectually tames their 
pride. We hear of no more demands on the part of Ephraim that 
nothing shall be done without him. 

2. at great strife] Literally, a man of strife was Z, I and my people 

and when I called you] This makes the case worse for Ephraim. 
They had been asked to join the expedition and had neglected to do so. 

3. I put my life in my hands] Cf. 1 Sam. xix. 5, xxviii. 21. It 
was a task of great danger which Jephthah had undertaken. See also 
ch. ix. 17. 

4. Then Jephthah gathered together] The Midrash remarks here 
that had the priests done their duty, neither would Jephthah's rash 
vow have been fulfilled, nor this civil strife have taken place. It is 
worthy of remark (and it bears on the question of the authenticity of 
this book) how completely, in the disorganized state of Israel from 
foreign oppression and internal corruption, the religious system of Israel 
had been allowed to fall into abeyance. From the days of Phinehas 
(see ch. xx., xxi.) to the time of Samuel, we hear nothing of the high 
priest, the ark, or the tabernacle. 

Ye Gileadites are ficgitives of Ephraim] The only explanation of this 

w. 5— 7.] JUDGES, XII. 153 

the Manassites. And the Gileadites took the passages of 5 
Jordan before the Ephraimites : and it was so, that when 
those Ephraimites which were escaped said, Let me go 
over ; that the men of Gilead said unto him, Art thou an 
Ephraimite ? If he said, Nay ; then said they unto him, 6 
Say now Shibboleth : and he said, Sibboleth : for he could 
not frame to pronounce it right. Then they took him, and 
slew him at the passages of Jordan : and there fell at that 
time of the Ephraimites forty and two thousand. And 7 
Jephthah judged Israel six years. Then died Jephthah the 
Gileadite, and was buried in one ^the cities of Gilead. 

speech that appears intelligible is that it is applied to Jephthah's army, 
in which some individual Ephraimites may have been present. This 
may have provoked the sneer, "your Gileadite army consisted of run- 
away Ephraimites and Manassites." Jephthah seems to have dwelt in 
that part of Gilead which belonged to Gad. That his army was largely 
recruited from Manasseh we know (ch. xi. 29), and the union between 
the two branches of the tribe of Joseph was closer than between any 
other of the tribes. Or the allusion may be to the fact that half the 
tribe of Manasseh had separated from their brethren by settling beyond 
Jordan, thus fulfilling the apprehension expressed in Josh. xxii. 24. 
Perhaps the "wood of Ephraim" in 2 Sam. xviii. 6, which was evidently 
on the other side of Jordan, may bear witness to a settlement of 
Ephraimites in Gilead. However this may be, the Gileadites who 
dwelt in Gad resented the insult, and in the event severely punished 
it. Most of the ancient versions avoid the difficulty by a paraphrase. 

5. passages] Rather, fords. 

6. Shibboleth] A stream, see Ps. lxix. 3, 16; Is. xxvii. 12. The 
dialectic variations between various parts of Judaea would naturally be 
as great as those between various parts of England. Even in the pre- 
sent day, with the immensely improved means of intercommunication, 
and the advance of education, it is usually possible to tell by their 
accent whether a person comes from the north, south, or west of Eng- 
land. And if it be objected that Palestine was much smaller than 
England, it may be answered that it was about the size of Wales, and 
that there is a marked distinction between the dialects of North and 
South Wales. 

he could not frame to pronounce it right] Literally, he did not 
appoint to speak thus, that is, it was not the custom of his district to pro- 
nounce in that way. 

forty and two thousand] A terrible slaughter for so absurd a cause 
of quarrel. But when the flood-gates of strife are opened, no one 
knows what may be the results. See Prov. xvii. 14. 

7. six years] A very short period. Very likely his life was short- 
ened by grief for his rash vow. 

154 JUDGES, XII. [vv. 8—13. 

8 — 15. Jephthah's successors. 

8 And after him Ibzan of Beth-lehem judged Israel. And 

9 he had thirty sons, and thirty daughters, whom he sent 
abroad, and took in thirty daughters from abroad for his 

10 sons. And he judged Israel seven years. Then died 
Ibzan, and was buried at Beth-lehem. 

11 And after him Elon, a Zebulonite, judged Israel ; and he 

12 judged Israel ten years. And Elon the Zebulonite died, 
and was buried in Aijalon in the country of Zebulun. 

13 And after him Abdon the son of Hillel, a Pirathonite, 

8 — 15. Jephthah's successors. 

8. Ibzan of Beth-lehem} The commentators are agreed that this was 
Bethlehem of Zebulun (Josh. xix. 15). But there is no proof of this, 
save that Bethlehem of judah is usually spoken of as Bethlehem-judah, 
and the fact noted by Ewald {Hist. Israel, sec. 3, B) that only one of 
the judges, Othniel, was from the tribe of Judah. As we hear nothing 
of the warlike achievements of these judges, we may presume that 
Jephthah's victory had freed northern and eastern Israel for a time from 
foreign invasion, and that his successors simply undertook the internal 
civil administration of the commonwealth, or of that portion of it over 
which they presided. 

9. And he had thirty sons} The foreign connexions mentioned in 
this verse lead to the conclusion that Ibzan's position was one of more 
importance than that suggested in the margin of our version. The 
shortness of the period during which he held the judgeship leads to the 
conclusion that his age and experience, rather than his military spirit, 
caused the management of internal affairs to be entrusted to him by 
general consent. 

11. Elori\ He seems to have held a similar position to Ibzan. 

12. Aijaloii\ Not to be confounded with Ajalon or Aijalon in the 
tribe of Dan (Josh. x. 12, xix. 42, xxi. 24). It perhaps should be 
printed Elon, for the letters are the same as those which compose Elon's 
name. So the LXX., AlXiov. The name, which signifies 'lair of the 
deer,' was likely to be a common one. 

13. Addon] The Bedan, most probably, of 1 Sam. xii. 11. The 
vowels, it is to be remembered, were no part of the original Hebrew 
text. The Ain has probably dropped out of the text at a very early 
period, as the LXX., not understanding Bedan, has written Barak, in 
which it has been followed by the Syriac. Ewald thinks, however, that 
Bedan is Ben-dan, i.e. Samson. 

a Pirathonite} Rather, the Pirathonite, as in v. 15. Pirathon, we 
learn from v. 15, was in the land of Ephraim. For the mount of the 
Amalekites, see note on ch. v. 14. It was the birthplace of the valiant 
Benaiah (2 Sam. xxiii. 20, 30; 1 Chron. xi. 31). It is mentioned by 
Josephus as Pharathon, and is the modern Ferata or Feron, south-west 
of Shechem. 

vv. 14, 15; 1,2.] JUDGES, XII. XIII. 155 

judged Israel. And he had forty sons and thirty nephews, 14 
that rode on threescore and ten ass colts : and he judged 
Israel eight years. And Abdon the son of Hillel the Pira- is 
thonite died, and was buried in Pirathon in the land of 
Ephraim, in the mount of the Amalekites. 

Ch. XIII. 1 — 25. Birth of Samson foretold by an angel. 

And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of 13 
the Lord ; and the Lord delivered them into the hand 
of the Philistines forty years. And there was a certain man 2 
of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was 

14. nephews] Rather, son's sons. For the riding on asses see note 
on ch. v. 10, 

Ch. XIII. 1 — 25. Birth of Samson foretold by an angel. 

The history of Samson, which now commences, is of a very different 
character to what has gone before. We may observe (1) that Samson's 
deeds in Israel's behalf were not preceded by any period of national 
repentance, {2) that he cannot be said to have in any sense delivered 
Israel, (3) that Samson's character was unsatisfactory and his conduct 
reprehensible, and (4) that so far from achieving a final triumph over 
the Philistines, he becomes their victim through his own folly, and at 
best does but bring on his adversaries the same fate that befalls himself. 
Yet he was a man of notable courage and strength, and, in these respects 
at least, a national hero. And it is possible that the ultimate supre- 
macy of Judah was the cause that his deeds of prowess, performed on the 
borders of that tribe, found a permanent place in the national history. 

1. did evil again] Literally, added to commit. It does not neces- 
sarily follow that the events here recorded occurred after those related 
in the last chapter. Many authorities suppose them to have occurred 
simultaneously, and others have supposed Samson's exploits to have 
taken place contemporaneously with the events recorded in 1 Sam. 
i — vi. Both these suppositions may be true. The remark let fall in 
ch. x. 7 leads to the inference that the writer, though he deals first with 
Jephthah's deliverance in the north-east and its consequence, and next 
with Samson's exploits in the south-west, does not necessarily do so in 
order of time. See Introduction, Ch. V. 

forty years'] Reckoning from the first invasion of the children of Am- 
nion to the death of Abdon, we have a period of forty-nine years. But 
Samson judged Israel for twenty years (ch. xv. 20). Thus Samson's 
exploits may have fallen in with the judgeship of Elon in northern and of 
Abdon in central Palestine, and may even have commenced during the 
life of Jephthah. 

2. Zorah] A city on the borders of Dan and Judah. Cf. Josh. xv. 
33 and xix. 41. Now Surah ; "on the edge of the hill country, 1500 
feet above the sea." Tristram, Bible Places, p. 46. 

156 JUDGES, XIII. [vv. 3—7. 

3 Manoah ; and his wife was barren, and bare not. And the 
angel of the Lord appeared unto the woman, and said unto 
her, Behold now, thou art barren, and bearest not : but 

4 thou shalt conceive, and bear a son. Now therefore be- 
ware, I pray thee, and drink not wine nor strong 

5 drink, and eat not any unclean thing: for lo, thou shalt 
conceive, and bear a son; and no rasor shall come on his 
head : for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the 
womb : and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand 

6 of the Philistines. Then the woman came and told her 
husband, saying, A man of God came unto me, and his 
countenance was like the countenance of an angel of God, 
very terrible : but I asked him not whence he was, neither 

7 told he me his name : but he said unto me, Behold, thou 
shalt conceive, and bear a son ; and now drink no wine nor 
strong drink, neither eat any unclean thing: for the child shall 
be a Nazarite to God from the womb to the day of his death. 

family] It stands here for tribe. See ch. xviii. 1, 30. Keil sug- 
gests that the tribe of Dan formed but one family (Numb. xxvi. 42, 43). 

3. the angel\ Or, an angel. 

4. wine nor strong drink] The Hebrew Yam, the Greek dtvos, our 
wine, are the same word. It is connected with a root signifying to 

ferment, from whence also comes yawen, mud. The shecar, or strong 
drink, seems to have been distilled from corn, honey, or dates. From 
it is derived the verb shacar, to be drunk. See also ch. ix. 13, note. 

unclean] The unclean thing here would hardly have been the food 
forbidden to Israelites in general, but the special things forbidden to 
Nazarites, Numb. vi. 3, 4. So below, v. 14. 

5. Nazarite] Heb. Nazir. The primary idea of the word is that 
of separation (see Numb. vi. 1 — 21). The nature of the Nazarite vow 
is explained in the passage just cited. It communicated a kind of 
priestly character to the person who took it. Cf. Exod. xxix. 2. See 
also 1 Sam. i. 11; Amos ii. 11, 12. A whole book of the Mishna, 
called Nazir, is devoted to the subject of this vow. See Dictionary of 
the Bible, Art. Nazarite. 

begin to deliver] Some have seen in the unusual expresssion " begin" 
the hand of a different author. But in truth it is but the expression of 
a fact different to any that have been before related. Samson, unlike 
the other judges, did not deliver Israel. But he did "begin" to de- 
liver Israel, i.e. he gave the first shock to the Philistine power by the 
terrible destruction of their chief men related in ch. xvi. 

6. A man of God] The usual expression (Deut. xxxiii. 1) for one 
who was employed to reveal God's will. Manoah's wife suspected, but 
did not know for certain, the character of her visitor. See v. 10. 

7. to the day of his death] This particular is not mentioned in the 

w. 8— 17.] JUDGES, XIII. 157 

Then Manoah intreated the Lord, and said, O my Lord, 8 
let the man of God which thou didst send come again unto 
us, and teach us what we shall do unto the child that shall be 
born. And God hearkened to the voice of Manoah ; and 9 
the angel of God came again unto the woman as she sat in 
the field : but Manoah her husband was not with her. And 10 
the woman made haste, and ran, and shewed her husband, 
and said unto him, Behold, the man hath appeared unto me, 
that came unto me the other day. And Manoah arose, and « 
went after his wife, and came to the man, and said unto 
him, Art thou the man that spakest unto the woman ? And 
he said, I am. And Manoah said, Now let thy words come 12 
to pass. How shall we order the child, and how shall 
we do unto him ? And the angel of the Lord said unto 13 
Manoah, Of all that I said unto the woman let her beware. 
She may not eat of any thing that cometh of the vine, 14 
neither let her drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any 
unclean thing: all that I commanded her let her observe. 
And Manoah said unto the angel of the Lord, I pray thee, 15 
let us detain thee, until we shall have made ready a kid for 
thee. And the angel of the Lord said unto Manoah, 16 
Though thou detain me, I will not eat of thy bread : and if 
thou wilt offer a burnt offering, thou must offer it unto the 
Lord. For Manoah knew not that he was an angel of the 
Lord. And Manoah said unto the angel of the Lord, 
What is thy name, that when thy sayings come to pass 

report of the angel's speech, v. 5. But it was doubtless said by him, and 
it was not thought necessary to repeat it twice. 

10. shewed her husband] Lit., told her husband. See Acts xii. 17. 

12. Now let thy words] Or, at the time when thy words. So LXX. 
and Vulgate. 

How shall we order the child] Literally, what shall be the judgment of 
the child. From the idea of judgment comes that of custom and order. 
The equivalent in modern English would be, How shall we manage the 

and how shall we do unto him?] Literally, and his work. 

13. beware] Literally, be kept. It is the passive of the verb rendered 
observe in the next verse. 

16. Though] Literally, if. 

if thou wilt offer] These words were spoken to prepare the mind of 
Manoah for the discovery he was about to make, that his interlocutor 
was a supernatural being. 

158 JUDGES, XIII. [w. 18—25. 

18 we may do thee honour? And the angel of the Lord said 
unto him, Why askest thou thus after my name, seeing it is 

19 secret ? So Manoah took a kid with a meat offering, and 
offered it upon a rock unto the Lord : and the angel did 

20 wondrously ; and Manoah and his wife looked on. For it 
came to pass, when the flame went up toward heaven from 
off the altar, that the angel of the Lord ascended in the 
flame of the altar. And Manoah and his wife looked on it, 

21 and fell on their faces to the ground. But the angel of 
the Lord did no more appear to Manoah and to his wife. 
Then Manoah knew that he was an angel of the Lord. 

22 And Manoah said unto his wife, We shall surely die, because 

23 we have seen God. But his wife said unto him, If the 
Lord were pleased to kill us, he would not have received a 
burnt offering and a meat offering at our hands, neither 
would he have shewed us all these things, nor would as at 
this time have told us such things as these. 

24 And the woman bare a son, and called his name Samson : 

25 and the child grew, and the Lord blessed him. And the 
spirit of the Lord began to move him at times in the camp 
of Dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol. 

18. Why askest thou thus after my name] Cf. Gen. xxxii. 29. 
secret"] Rather, wonderful, as in Is. ix. 6. Cf. also Exod. xv. 11. 

19. meat offering] See note on ch. vi. 18. So also below, v. 23. 
did wondrously] Literally, was making wonderfid to do. The word 

here translated wondrously is the same as that translated secret above. 

looked on] Literally were seeing, i.e. were spectators of all that 
occurred. So also in the next verse. 

20. altar] That is, the rock that served Manoah as a temporary 

fell on their faces] Both from fear and as an act of worship. See 
Lev. ix. 24; Numb. xiv. 5; Josh. v. 14, &c. 

23. See note on ch. vi. 23. 

24. Samson] Heb. Shimshon. The LXX. has Sampson. Some 
derive his name from Shemesh, the sun, but others suppose it to mean 
the strong, or the waster, from shamam to lay waste. 

25. the spirit of the Lord] See ch. iii. 10. 

move him] Literally, smite him. Samson (see note on ch. xiv. 6) seems 
to have been subject to sudden impulses to exert his strength, ^//interior 
impulses are in the Bible ascribed to the agency of a good or evil spirit 
(see notes on ch. iii. 10, ix. 23). Men in later times, who have learned 
by observation that these impulses are governed by certain general laws, 
have been inclined to lose sight of the primary in the secondary 

vv. 1—4.] JUDGES, XIV. 159 

Ch. XIV. 1 — 11. Samson *s marriage. 
And Samson went down to Timnath, and saw a woman in 14 
Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines. And he came 2 
up, and told his father and his mother, and said, I have seen 
a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines : 
now therefore get her for me to wife. Then his father and 3 
his mother said unto him, Is there never a woman among 
the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that 
thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines ? 
And Samson said unto his father, Get her for me ; for she 
pleaseth me well. But his father and his mother knew not 4 
that it was of the Lord, that he sought an occasion against 
the Philistines : for at that time the Philistines had dominion 

camp of Daii\ Or, Mahaneh-dan, as the name of a place. See ch. 
xviii. 12. 

Eshtaol] On the borders of Dan and Judah. Cf. Josh. xv. 33, xix. 
41. Now Yeshua, as is supposed, situated on a hill two miles east of 
Zorah. For Zorah see v. 3. 

Ch. XIV. 1 — 11. Samson's marriage. 

1. Timnath] Now Tibnah, 740 feet above the sea. See note on 
Zorah, ch. xiii. 2, and observe the correctness of the words "went 
down." Timnah, or Timnath, was west of Bethshemesh, and is the 
Timnah of Josh. xv. 10. Canon Tristram {Bible Places, p. 47) describes 
vineyards {v. 5) and olives as lining the sides of the hill, and corn as 
waving in the valley, like the description in ch. xv. 5. Cf. also ch. xv. 
6, where the Philistines are described as coming up from the lowlands. 
No one can doubt that this history was written by one well acquainted 
with the locality. 

saw a woman] In the free Eastern life of those ages women were 
neither veiled nor shut up in harems, but the negotiations for the 
marriage were clearly carried on by the parents, as in most Continental 
countries now, as well as among the Hindoos. See Gen. xxi. 21, xxiv. 
4, 38, xxxiv. 8; Exod. xxi. 9; 1 Cor. vii. 38. 

2. get her] Rather, take her. See last note. 

3. among the daughters of thy brethren] See the prohibition in 
Exod. xxxiv. 16 and Deut. vii. 3, which extended to the Philistines. 
Cf. also Gen. xxiv. 3, 4, xxvi. 34, 35. 

pleaseth me well] Literally, as margin, is right in mine eyes. 

4. of the Lord] See note on ch. hi. 15. Also Josh. xi. 20. 
occasion] Literally, a thing brought to pass. The word only occurs 


for at that time] This fixes the date of the composition of the book 
at a time when the Philistines had entirely ceased to rule in Israel, i. e. 
in the middle of David's reign at the earliest. 

160 JUDGES, XIV. [vv. 5—9. 

5 over Israel. Then went Samson down, and his father and 
his mother, ' to Timnath, and came to the vineyards of 
Timnath : and behold, a young lion roared against him. 

6 And the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and he 
rent him as he would have rent a kid, and he had nothing in 
his hand : but he told not his father or his mother what he 

7 had done. And he went down, and talked with the woman; 
and she pleased Samson well. 

8 And after a time he returned to take her, and he turned 
aside to see the carcase of the lion : and behold, there was a 

9 swarm of bees and honey in the carcase of the lion. And 
he took thereof in his hands, and went on eating, and came 

5. a young lion roared against him~\ Literally, a full-grown cub of the 
lions was roaring to meet him^ i. e. as he met him. The word here 
translated full-grown cub means properly a young lion nearly or quite 
full-grown. The word translated " lions" is the feminine form, but it 
appears to mean lion rather than lioness. See 1 Kings x. 19; 2 Chron 
ix. 18, 19. 

6. came mightily] irruit y Vulgate. Literally, brake through. The 
analogy of 1 Sam. x. 6 and xi. 6 seems to imply a sudden possession. 

and he had nothing in his hand] Perhaps because under the Philistine 
dominion, the Israelites were not allowed to carry arms. See 1 Sam. 
xiii. 19 — 22. 

but he told not] We are told above that they were with him. But 
it was possible in a thousand ways that though in the main they 
travelled together, they might not have been together when this incident 

7. she pleased Samson well] Literally, as above, v. 3. 

8. carcase] Literally, that which is fallen , like ittu>ia<i in Greek. 

a swarm of bees] In that hot climate a carcase is speedily dried up by 
the sun's heat, and putrefaction is thus arrested. "If one were to 
understand this of a putrid and offensive carcass, the narrative would 
lose all probability, for it is well known that bees will neither approach 
the dead body of man nor animal. But in the desert of Arabia the heat 
of the summer season often so dries up the moisture of the bodies of dead 
men and camels within twenty-four hours, that they remain a long time 
like mummies, unaltered and without offensive smell." Rosenmiiller, 
Alterthumskunde t IV. 2, 424. Compare the story of the swarm of bees 
in the head of the slain Onesilaus. Herod. V. 114. 

carcase] The word here is not the same as that in the former part of 
the verse. Here it signifies simply body. 

9. took thereof] The Hebrew word here is not the usual one for 
took. Some translate and he broke it off, others, and he drew it out 
(took it out, LXX.). The same word is translated taken out below. 
"The Rabbis write here that the word is properly to pull asunder that 

vv. io— I*] JUDGES, XIV. 161 

to his father and mother, and he gave them, and they did 
eat : but he told not them that he had taken the honey out 
of the carcase of the lion. So his father went down unto 10 
the woman : and Samson made there a feast ; for so used 
the young men to do. And it came to pass, when they saw IX 
him, that they brought thirty companions to be with him. 

12 — 20. The riddle and its consequences. 

And Samson said unto them, I will now put forth a riddle I2 
unto you: if you can certainly declare it me within the 
seven days of the feast, and find it out, then I will give you 
thirty sheets and thirty change of garments : but if ye can- n 
not declare it me, then shall ye give me thirty sheets and 

which clings to anything, as bread in the oven, and honey in the combs, 
and by so pulling asunder to take and receive. " Buxtorf, s. v. 
and went on eating] Rather, and went on, eating as he went. 

10. for so used the young men to do] Apparently the explanation 
refers to the Philistine custom, for had it been a Jewish one there would 
have been no need for the explanation. Besides it would not appear to 
have been a custom among the Israelites and their kindred either before 
or after this time. See Gen. xxix. 22, and Tobit viii. 19. In John ii. 10, 
however, it would seem that the bridegroom gave the feast. 

11. when they saw him] The LXX. renders when they feared him, 
which is a possible alternative rendering. But the A. V. is preferable, 
for at present they had had no reason to fear him. Josephus seems to 
have had the same reading as the LXX., for he says that they "watched 

thirty companions] Probably to be the " children of the bride- 
chamber" (Matt. ix. 15) as Samson had brought no friends of his own. 

12—20. The riddle and its consequences. 

12. / will now put forth a riddle] Literally, / will now riddle to 
you a riddle. The Hebrew word for riddle is derived from a word 
signifying to tie up in knots, hence to be intricate. See 1 Kings x. 1 
(in the original). Also Ezek. xvii. 2. Riddles were held in high 
estimation in early ages. Clearchus wrote a book on them, and 
Plutarch, Septem Sapientum convivium, tells how Amasis of Egypt 
and an Ethiopian monarch staked many cities on the guessing of a 
riddle. See also Becker, Charicles, Scene 6, Excursus 3. 

seven days of the feast] Cf. Gen. xxix. 27. 

sheets] Heb. sedinhii, to which the Greek aivhwv appears to be 
related. It was a wide flowing under garment of linen worn next the 
body. See Is. iii. 23 where it is translated fine linen. 

change of garments] These were frequently of a costly description. 
See Gen. xlv. 22; 2 Kings v. 22, 23. 


1 62 JUDGES, XIV. [vv. 14—18. 

thirty change of garments. And they said unto him, Put 

14 forth thy riddle, that we may hear it. And he said unto 

Out of the eater came forth meat, 

And out of the strong came forth sweetness. 

15 And they could not in three days expound the riddle. And 
it came to pass on the seventh day, that they said unto 
Samson's wife, Entice thy husband, that he may declare 
unto us the riddle, lest we burn thee and thy father's house 
with fire : have ye called us to take that we have ? is it not 

16 so? And Samson's wife wept before him, and said, Thou 
dost but hate me, and lovest me not : thou hast put forth a 
riddle unto the children of my people, and hast not told 
it me. And he said unto her, Behold, I have not told it my 

1 7 father nor my mother, and shall I tell it thee? And she 
wept before him the seven days, while their feast lasted : 
and it came to pass on the seventh day, that he told her, 
because she lay sore upon him : and she told the riddle 

18 to the children of her people. And the men of the city 

14. meat] Or, food. The word meat, in the days when the A. V. was 
made, had a wider meaning than it now has. Derived from the French 
metire, to put, it signified any food placed upon, or sent up to, the table. 

expound] Literally tell. 

15. take that we have] Or, make us poor, as in Gen. xlv. 11 ; Deut. 
xxviii. 42 (cf. marg.). So the LXX. and Luther render. This shews 
that the garments spoken of above were expensive ones, though not 
sufficiently so as to justify this high-handed conduct on the part of the 
dominant race. 

16. my father nor my mother] From this passing intimation we 
learn that the father and the mother, in the simple life of primitive 
Israel, were regarded with special reverence by their children. See 
Prov. i. 8, vi. 20 — 22. 

17. the seven days, while their feast lasted] i.e. the rest of the seven 
clays. We are not to understand that she wept before him during the 
whole of the seven days, because this mode of expression is the usual one 
in Hebrew where the remainder of any particular number is implied. 
Compare 1 Sam. xvi. 10 with the preceding portion of the narrative. 
On the other hand, we can hardly suppose that Samson's wife only 
wept before him on the seventh day. No doubt she herself resented 
the conduct of her newly-made husband in keeping a secret from her, 
and could see also the signs of coming trouble in the growing indignation 
of her countrymen, before it broke out in the threats recorded in v. 15. 
Vatablus thinks that her weeping commenced on the fourth day. 

lay sore] Or, urged him, i. e. with intreaties. 

vv. 19, 20; 1.] JUDGES, XIV. XV. 163 

said unto him on the seventh day before the sun went 

What is sweeter than honey ? 

And what is stronger than a lion ? 
And he said unto them, 

If ye had not plowed with my heifer, 

Ye had not found out my riddle. 
And the spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he went J 9 
down to Ashkelon, and slew thirty men of them, and took 
their spoil, and gave change of garments unto them which 
expounded the riddle. And his anger was kindled, and 
he went up to his father's house. But Samson's wife was 2 ° 
given to his companion, whom he had used as his friend. 

Ch. XV. 1 — 8. Samson's revenge. 
But it came to pass within a while after, in the time of 15 
wheat harvest, that Samson visited his wife with a kid ; and 

18. the sun] The word here is /teres. See ch. viii. 13, note. 

19. came upon hint] See note on v. 6. 
spoil] See 2 Sam. ii. 21 (marg.). 

his anger was kindled] It appears to have been shortlived (see 
ch. xv. 1), but at least it was not unnatural, and was no doubt deepened 
by the thought that these people were the oppressors of his countrymen. 
The revenge he took was by no means surprising in that warlike age, 
on the part of a young man conscious of supernatural strength, and 
hating the nation with which he had nevertheless chosen to ally himself. 
See Introduction, Ch. III. 

20. his companion] One of the thirty mentioned in v. 11. The margin 
of our Bible refers us to the "friend of the bridegroom" spoken of in 
John iii. 29. The LXX. adopts this view and renders by vvfKpayiaybs. 
The excuse for this conduct on the part of the friends of Samson's wife 
was his abrupt departure, leaving her behind him. But this contemptuous 
treatment produced a yet fiercer outbreak on Samson's part, which is 
recorded in the next chapter. 

Ch. XV. 1 — 8. Samson's revenge. 

1. within a while aftei] Literally, after days. We do not know how 
long the time was, but it was probably not more than a month or two. 

with a kid] A present in order to make reconciliation. Samson's 
character seems to have been generous, though impulsive and weak. 
The kid was intended as a sort of admission that he had been too hasty 
in his displeasure, and that his wife had some ground of complaint 
against him. A kid is still the usual gift rather than a lamb. See 
Van Lennep, Bible Lands, 204. 

II — 2 

1 64 JUDGES, XV. [vv. 2—5. 

he said, I will go in to my wife into the chamber. But her 

2 father would not suffer him to go in. And her father said, 
I verily thought that thou hadst utterly hated her: therefore 
I gave her to thy companion: is not her younger sister 

3 fairer than she ? take her, I pray thee, instead of her. And 
Samson said concerning them, Now shall I be more blame- 
less than the Philistines, though I do them a displeasure. 

4 And Samson went and caught three hundred foxes, and 
took firebrands, and turned tail to tail, and put a firebrand 

5 in the midst between two tails. And when he had set 
the brands on fire, he let them go into the standing corn 
of the Philistines, and burnt up both the shocks, and also 

3. do them] i. e. to his wife's father and his friends. 
Now shall I be] Literally, this time, i. e. on this occasion. 

more blameless than] Or, blameless in respect of. So the LXX. which 
has ad loos air 6. Cf. Matt, xxvii. 4, 24. Samson is ready to admit 
that he did not act rightly on the former occasion, in slaying unoffending 
persons in revenge for a trick. "This time," he says, "the Philistines will 
not be able to say that they have any ground of complaint against me." 

though I do them a displeasure] Literally, if, or, when, I am a doer of 
evil towards them. 

4. foxes] Or, jackals, Heb. shzi'al which, through the Persian 
schagal, becomes our jackal. They are still to be found in the Holy 
Land, and their cry at night, echoing from Ebal to Gerizim, disturbs 
the traveller who takes his rest at Shechem. So Dr Petermann tells us 
in his Reisen im Orient. They are also still to be found in considerable 
numbers in the neighbourhood where Samson dwelt. The naturalist 
Scheber (quoted by Rosenmiiller, Alterthnmskunde, IV. 3, 154), gives the 
following among other reasons for preferring the jackal here. 1. The 
jackal is more easily caught than the fox. 2. The fox is shy and 
suspicious and flies mankind, the jackal is not. 3. Foxes are difficult, 
jackals comparatively easy, to treat in the way here described. So 
also Hengstenberg, Geschichte des Reiches Gottes, II. 66. See a similar 
story in Ovid, Fasti, iv. 707. It does not appear that the fox feeds on 
carrion, which the Shu'al does (Ps. lxiii. 11). Some, however prefer the 
rendering fox, and this animal may have been comprehended under the 
general term ShtCaL 

firebrands] Hebrew Lappidim, here torches. See note on ch. v. 4, 
vii. 16. 

5. standing corn] This mode of inflicting vengeance on an enemy 
was very usual in early times. Herodotus (1. 17 — 19) tells us how the 
Lydian King Alyattes adopted this practice for twelve successive years 
to revenge himself on his neighbours the Milesians. 

shocks] The Hebrew word is translated stacks in Exod. xxii. 6*. It 
means either (1) stacks of corn or (2) a heap of sheaves, or shock as here. 

vv. 6— 8.] JUDGES, XV. 165 

the standing corn, with the vineyards and olives. Then the 6 
Philistines said, Who hath done this ? And they answered, 
Samson, the son in law of the Timnite, because he had 
taken his wife, and given her to his companion. And the 
Philistines came up, and burnt her and her father with fire. 
And Samson said unto them, Though ye have done this, yet 7 
will I be avenged of you, and after that I will cease. And he 8 
smote them hip and thigh with a great slaughter : and he 
went down and dwelt in the top of the rock Etam. 

Cf. Job v. 26". For shock, see Tusser, Good Husbandry, August 16, 
"The mowing of barley, if barley do stand 
Is cheapest and best, for to rid out of hand ; 
Some mow it and rake it and set it on cocks 
Some mow it and bind it and set it on shocks." 
vineyards and olives'] The word cherem (from which Carmel is 

derived) signifies originally a fruitful field (see margin of Is. xxxvii. 24). 

Hence it came to mean vineyard. But there is no such meaning here. 

For vineyards and olives we must read olive-yard, or better, according to 

the analogy of the German, olive -garden. 

6. burnt her] So that, after all, the fate she had tried to avoid by her 
treachery towards her husband, came upon her at last. Timidity and 
prudence are not always identical. Nor does the cowardice of the 
Philistines, in avenging themselves upon the helpless, rather than upon 
the offender, secure them from evil consequences. 

7. Though ye have done this] Perhaps the best equivalent in 
idiomatic English would be, "If this is the way you act, I will most 
assuredly be revenged upon you." Literally, if ye are acting thus — ; 
but I swear that I have been avenged upon you, the perfect denoting the 
matured intention of Samson's mind. 

8. hip and thigh] Heb. leg upon thigh, i.e. hewed them in pieces 
with such violence that their bodies lay in confused heaps, their limbs 
piled up on one another. The Chaldee translates "horse upon foot," 
but this is of course a mere paraphrase. 

with a great slaughter] The Hebrew is more vivid, a great slaugh- 

Etam] Etam is mentioned in 1 Chron. iv. 32 and in -?, Chron. xi. 6. 
Both these places were in Judah, and they may have been identical, 
though from the connexion in which the names appear the latter would 
seem to have been situated some distance to the north of the former. If 
the latter Etam lay near Beth-lehem and Tekoa, it may well have been 
the Etam of this narrative, which was evidently (see next verse) within 
the borders of Judah. Recent discoverers, however, have identified the 
place with Beit' Atab, near Zorah and Eshtaol, but within the borders 
of Judah. It stands on the crest of a rocky knoll, with a rock tunnel 
of great antiquity connecting the village with its chief spring, the en- 

1 66 JUDGES, XV, [vv. 9— 13. 

9 — -13. Samson delivered to the Philistines. 

9 Then the Philistines went up, and pitched in Judah, and 

10 spread themselves in Lehi. And the men of Judah said, 
Why are ye come up against us ? And they answered, To 
bind Samson are we come up, to do to him as he hath done 

11 to us. Then three thousand men of Judah went to the top 
of the rock Etam, and said to Samson, Knowest thou not 
that the Philistines are rulers over us ? what is this that thou 
hast done unto us? And he said unto them, As they did 

12 unto me, so have I done unto them. And they said unto 
him, We are come down to bind thee, that we may deliver 
thee into the hand of the Philistines. And Samson said 
unto them, Swear unto me, that ye will not fall upon me 

13 yourselves. And they spake unto him, saying, No ; but we 
will bind thee fast, and deliver thee into their hand : but 
surely we will not kill thee. And they bound him with 
two new cords, and brought him up from the rock. 

trance to which can only be found by those well acquainted with the 
locality. See Tristram, Bible Places, p. 48, and Conder's Bible 

9—13. Samson delivered to the Philistines. 

9. spread themselves] Literally, were spread or scattered, no doubt 
in exploring parties in search of Samson. 

Lehi] So called from what follows, see v. 17. The situation of 
Lehi has not been identified. 

11. top] Rather, cleft (Is. ii. 21, where the same words occur, and 
are translated "tops of the ragged rocks"), from a root signifying 
division. Possibly the tunnel spoken of above (v. 8, note). We 
may observe the intimate acquaintance of the writer with the natural 
features of the country. The men of Judah must have gone up to the 
summit of the rock, they went down (see the margin for the correct 
translation of the Heb. word) to the cleft. 

the Philistines are rulers over us] How completely the spirit of the 
men of Judah was broken may be discerned from their conduct here, as 
well as by a comparison of 1 Sam. xiii. 7, 19. 

12. that ye will not fall upon me yourselves] Samson's generous 
and heroic nature will not permit him to enter into strife with his own 
countrymen, in spite of the selfish and cowardly spirit they were now 
displaying. Confident in his strength, he is willing to be bound and 
delivered to the Philistines, but he will not imbrue his hands with 
Israelite blood. 

vv. 14-19.1 JUDGES, XV. 167 

14 — 17. The destruction of a thousand men with the jaw- 
bone of an ass. 

And when he came unto Lehi, the Philistines shouted '4 
against him : and the spirit of the Lord came mightily 
upon him, and the cords that were upon his arms became 
as flax that was burnt with fire, and his bands loosed from 
off his hands. And he found a new jawbone of an ass, 15 
and put forth his hand, and took it, and slew a thousand 
men therewith. And Samson said, 16 

With the jawbone of an ass, heaps upon heaps, 
With the jaw of an ass have I slain a thousand men. 
And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking, 17 
that he cast away the jawbone out of his hand, and called 
that place Ramath-lehi. 

18 — 20. The miracle in Lehi. 
And he was sore athirst, and called on the Lord, and 18 
said, Thou hast given this great deliverance into the hand 
of thy servant : and now shall I die for thirst, and fall into 
the hand of the uncircumcised ? But God clave a hollow 19 

14 — 17. The destruction of a thousand men with the 
jaw-bone of an ass. 

14. shouted against him'] Literally, to meet him, i.e. their shouts 
met him as he came forward. 

came mightily'] As in ch. xiv. 6. 

loosed] Literally, were melted, as margin. 

15. new] Or, fresh, of an ass recently dead, and therefore less 

slezv a thousand men] Doubtless assisted by a panic which seized on 
the Philistines when they saw the preternatural strength of their an- 
tagonist. Cf. Levit. xxvi. 8 ; Josh, xxiii. 10. 

16. heaps upon heaps] Literally, as margin, one heap, two heaps. 
Samson, or his historian, breaks out into poetry here. The deeds of 
Jewish heroes, like those of other nations, were largely celebrated in 
verse. The same Hebrew word stands for ass and heap in this passage. 
There is therefore a play upon words here. 

17. Ramath-lehi] The height, or eminence, of the jawbone, ac- 
cording to some of the best ancient and modern interpreters. 

18—20. The miracle in Lehi. 

18. into the hand of thy servant] Rather, by. The same Hebrew 
particle is translated twice into and once/^r, in this verse. 

19. God] The use of Elohim here, when Samson, it is said, prayed 
to Jehovah, has attracted some attention among the commentators. It 

1 68 JUDGES, XV. XVI. [vv. 20; 1—3. 

place that was in the jaw, and there came water thereout ; 
and when he had drunk, his spirit came again, and he 
revived : wherefore he called the name thereof En-hakkore, 
20 which is in Lehi unto this day. And he judged Israel in 
the days of the Philistines twenty years. 

Ch. XVI. 1 — 3. Samson's exploit at Gaza, 

16 Then went Samson to Gaza, and saw there a harlot, and 

2 went in unto her. And it was told the Gazites, saying, 
Samson is come hither. And they compassed him in, and 
laid wait for him all night in the gate of the city, and were 
quiet all the night, saying, In the morning, when it is day, 

3 we shall kill him. And Samson lay till midnight, and arose 
at midnight, and took the doof s of the gate of the city, and 
the two posts, and went away with them, bar and all, and 

at least serves to cast some doubt upon the theory which assigns the 
passages in which Elohim occurs to another hand than those in which 
Jehovah is employed. 

a hollow place that was in the jaiv\ Rather, the hollow that is in 
Lehi. The word (Machlesh) here translated hollow is translated 
mortar in Prov. xxvii. 22, and is used of a valley, apparently near 
Jerusalem, Zeph. i. n. It was no doubt a mortar-like cavity in the 
rock, which was in existence in the time of the historian, and had been 
handed down by tradition as the place where the miracle happened. 
The LXX. translate the hole which was in Siagon (or jawbone), but ap- 
parently regard Siagon as a proper name, as they do in v. 14. In v. 9 
they leave Lehi untranslated. The Vulgate translates as the A. V., 
thus unnecessarily adding a fresh wonder to the miracle. 

En-hakkore] " The fountain of him who calls," i.e. upon God. 

Ch. XVI. 1—3. Samson's Exploit at Gaza. 

1. a harlot] Samson's sensual disposition led him into the utmost 
danger, and finally proved his ruin. Keil cites a striking passage from 
St Ambrose here, " Samson when strong and brave strangled a lion, 
but he could not strangle his own loves. He burst the fetters of his 
foes, but not the cords of his own lusts. He burned up the crops of 
others, and lost the fruit of his own valour when burning with the flame 
enkindled by a single woman." "Of all the deliverers of Israel there 
is none of whom there are reported so many weaknesses, or so many 
miracles, as of Samson." Bp. Hall. 

2. In the mornings when it is day] Rather, when the day dawns, 
or at morning light. 

3. took] Rather, grasped ; literally, took forcible hold of. 

went away with them] Rather, removed them : literally pulled them 

vv. 4— 6.] JUDGES, XVI. 169 

put them upon his shoulders, and carried them up to the 
top of a hill that is before Hebron. 

4 — 20. Samson 1 s infatuation for Delilah, and her treachery. 

And it came to pass afterward, that he loved a woman in 4 
the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah. And the 5 
lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and said unto 
her, Entice him, and see wherein his great strength lieth, 
and by what means we may prevail against him, that we 
may bind him to afflict him : and we will give thee every 
one of us eleven hundred pieces of silver. And Delilah said 6 

a /lilt] Rather, the hill or mountain. 

before Hebron] This may be explained either (1) opposite Hebro:a, 
which was about forty miles from Gaza, or (2) towards Hebron. Near 
Gaza there is a range of hills in the direction of Hebron, the highest of 
which commands a view of the hills round Hebron. Hither, as Robin- 
son tells us (Biblical Researches hi Palestine, 11. 39), ancient tradition 
supposes the gates of Gaza to have been carried. 

4 — 20. Samson's infatuation for Delilah, and her 

4. valley of Sorek] The word here translated valley is the ravine 
through which a winter torrent flows. See note on ch. iv. 7. Sorek 
has not been identified, but it was no doubt in the neighbourhood of 
Samson's birth-place. The place was no doubt famous for its vines. 
See Gen. xlix. 11 (Heb). 

Delilah] Her name is derived from a root signifying that which 
hangs down or droops, as a palm branch. It may (1) have referred to 
the delicate grace of her form. Or it may (2) with some authorities be 
supposed to mean weak. The idea (3) of some of the Rabbis that she 
was so named because she deprived Samson of his strength seems more 
fanciful than probable. It is not stated whether Delilah were a Phi- 
listine or one of Samson's own countrywomen. The former is usually 
taken for granted, by Josephus, among others. But it is a question 
whether Samson, with all his weakness, would have reposed such implicit 
confidence in her if she had been one of his enemies. Nor, one would 
think, would the immense bribe mentioned in v. 5 have been required. 

5. lords] See ch. iii. 3. 
Entice] Cf. ch. xiv. 15. 

wherein his great strength lieth] The idea of the Philistines probably 
was that he possessed some sorcerer's charm by which he was enabled 
to perform his wonderful feats of strength. These feats were the more 
remarkable, in that it does not appear that Samson's size was in any 
way proportionate to his strength. He is not described as a "son of 
Anak," nor is he spoken of as Goliath is spoken of in 1 Sam. xvii. 

afflict] Or humble, as margin. 

every one of us] Lit. a man. The bribe was a large one, and shews 

176 JUDGES, XVI. [vv. 7— u. 

to Samson, Tell me, I pray thee, wherein thy great strength 
lieth, and wherewith thou mightest be bound to afflict thee. 

7 And Samson said unto her, If they bind me with seven 
green withs that were never dried, then shall I be weak, 

8 and be as another man. Then the lords of the Philistines 
brought up to her seven green withs which had not been 

9 dried, and she bound him with them. Now there were men 
lying in wait, abiding with her in the chamber. And she 
said unto him, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And 
he brake the withs, as a thread of tow is broken when it 

10 touch eth the fire. So his strength was not known. And 
Delilah said unto Samson, Behold, thou hast mocked me, 
and told me lies : now tell me, I pray thee, wherewith thou 

11 mightest be bound. And he said unto her, If they bind me 
fast with new ropes that never were occupied, then shall I 

the terror Samson had inspired. Eleven hundred pieces of silver 
amounted to about ^135. The whole, therefore, was £6*]$ — a con- 
siderable sum in those days. But if, with some, we reckon the silver 
shekel at three shillings, the amount would then be ,£825. See Mr 
Madden in the Variorum Teacher's Bible. It may be noticed that 
there is a remarkable consistency in the whole narrative. First we 
have the tremendous slaughter of the Philistines, then the immense 
sum of money offered to Delilah by men well aware of Samson's sen- 
sitiveness to female blandishments, and then the plots laid for his life 
by men who dare not attempt to lay hands upon him, in spite of their 
being many and he but one. 

6. Tell me, I pray thee'] Any one less foolish than Samson would 
have seen at once that these words were spoken with a purpose, and 
would have shaken himself free from the dangerous fascinations of the 

7. green withs] Better, as margin, new cords. The Hebrew 
translated green is properly, as margin, moist, and is here spoken of the 
undried flax of which the cords were made. See Gen. xxx. 37, where it 
is translated green, and Numb. vi. 3, where it is rendered moist. Some, 
however, suppose them to have been made of the sinews of animals, as 
distinct from the ropes or cords mentioned below, v. n. The deriva- 
tion gives us no help in the decision of the question. 

another man] Lit. one of the men, i.e. one of ordinary mankind. 

9. Now there were men lying in wait abiding with her] Lit. the 
ambush was sitting to (i.e. by) her. So below, v. 12. 

toucheth] Lit. as margin, smelleth. 

11. ropes] The word here signifies what has been tivined. That in 
v. 7 signifies what hangs down. 

that never were occupied] Lit., as margin, wherewith work has not 
been done* Cf. St Luke xix. 13, as also Exod. xxxviii. 34, Ezek. xxvii. 

vv. 12—17.] JUDGES, XVI. 171 

be weak, and be as another man. Delilah therefore took 12 
new ropes, and bound him therewith, and said unto him, 
The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And there were Hers 
in wait abiding in the chamber. And he brake them from 
off his arms like a thread. And Delilah said unto Samson, 13 
Hitherto thou hast mocked me, and told me lies : tell me 
wherewith thou mightest be bound. And he said unto her, 
If thou weavest the seven locks of my head with the web. 
And she fastened it with the pin, and said unto him, The 14 
Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awaked out of 
his sleep, and went away with the pin of the beam, and with 
the web. And she said unto him, How canst thou say, I 15 
love thee, when thine heart is not with me? thou hast 
mocked me these three times, and hast not told me wherein 
thy great strength lieth. And it came to pass, when she 16 
pressed him daily with her words, and urged him, so that 
his soul was vexed unto death ; that he told her all his 17 
heart, and said unto her, There hath not come a rasor upon 
mine head ; for I have been a Nazarite unto God from my 
mother's womb : if I be shaven, then my strength will go 

16, 27, &c. The wprd occupy, like the Latin occupare, signifies to 
engage in business, to employ, as well as to fill a place, as in 1 Cor. 
xiv. 16. Compare also the Bible and Prayer Book Version of Ps. 
cvii. 23. So an Act of Parliament in the reign of Henry the Eighth 
uses the word as equivalent to employ-. — "an Archbishop may have 
cause to occupy more chaplains than six." And we use the word in 
this sense in the passive, as in the phrase to be occupied in business. 

12. thread] Not the same word as in v. 9. There the word used 
signifies a slender twisted cord. Here the word means saving thread. 

13. locks'] The word signifies what is interwoven. Here, therefore, 
it means plaits. 

web] It means the woven cloth, with which she interwove his hair 
as he slept. Cf. a similar word in Is. xxv. 7, xxviii. 20, where our 
version has covering. 

14. And she fastened it with the phi] Lit. and she struck with the 
peg. The word translated/^ is the same as in ch. iv. 21, 22. What is 
meant is that she fastened her piece of weaving securely in the loom, so 
as to prevent its slipping out, weaving Samson's hair in her work just as 
she would ordinary threads. 

the pin of the beam] Rather, the peg" or pin of the weft, i. e. of what 
had been woven. This peg or pin Samson took with him, and the cloth 
into which his hair had been woven also. 

16. vexed] Lit., as margin, shoj'tened. See ch. x. 16. 

17. if I be shaven] Samson's Nazarite vow was to last his whole 

172 JUDGES, XVI. [vv. 18— 2T. 

from me, ?jid I shall become weak, and be like any other 

is man. And when Delilah saw that he had told her all his 

heart, she sent and called for the lords of the Philistines, 

saying, Come up this once, for he hath shewed me all his 

heart. Then the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, 

i 9 and brought money in their hand. And she made him 

sleep upon her knees ; and she called for a man, and she 

caused him to shave off the seven locks of his head ; and 

she began to afflict him, and his strength went from him. 

2d And she said, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And 

he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other 

times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the 

Lord was departed from him. 

2 1 — 3 1 . Revenge and Death of Samson, 
21 But the Philistines took him, and put out his eyes, and 

life, and upon its faithful observance his strength depended. "The 
superhuman strength of Samson did not reside in his hair as hair, but in 
the fact that Jehovah was with him." Keil. 
any other man] Heb. all mankind. 

18. this once] See ch. vi. 39, where the Hebrew is the same. 

me] This is an emendation of the Masorites. The Hebrew text 
makes this a remark of the historian, and reads her. But the LXX. and 
Chaldee agree with the Masorites here. 

money] Rather, the money, i. e. which had been promised, v. 5. The 
Philistines faithfully fulfilled their engagement, but what became of 
Delilah and her ill-gotten gains we are not told. She vanishes from the 
history so soon as her part in the infamous compact was performed. 

19. she made him sleep upon her knees] A very striking practical 
commentary upon Prov. vii. 22, 23. 

a man] Heb. the man, i. e. the Her in wait who had been placed at 
Delilah's service. 

to shave off] The commentators here refer to the story of Nisus and 
the purple lock which his daughter shaved off (Ovid, Metam. 8, 6). 
But the story, as well as its moral, is very different to this. 

she began to afflict him] According to the usual custom of Hebrew 
historians, who invariably emphasize by repetition, what follows is here 
referred to. 

20. other times] Lit. time after time, 
shake myself] i.e. free from my bonds. 
the Lord] See note onz/. 17. 

21—31. Revenge and Death of Samson. 

21. took him] Heb. laid hold of him, 
put out] Heb. as margin, bored out. 

his eyes] The Mishna (De Uxore Adulterii Suspecla, ch. 8) has the 

vv 22—25.] JUDGES, XVI. 173 

brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters of 
brass ; and he did grind in the prison house. Howbeit the 22 
hair of his head began to grow again after he was shaven. 

Then the lords of the Philistines gathered them together 23 
for to offer a great sacrifice unto Dagon their god, and to 
rejoice : for they said, Our god hath delivered Samson our 
enemy into our hand. And when the people saw him, they 24 
praised their god : for they said, Our god hath delivered 
into our hands our enemy, and the destroyer of our country, 
which slew many of us. And it came to pass, when their 25 
hearts were merry, that they, said, Call for Samson, that he 
may make us sport. And they called for Samson out of the 
prison house ; and he made them sport : and they set him 

following note on this passage. Commenting on the maxim " with what 
measure a man metes, with that it shall be measured to him," it pro- 
ceeds, "Samson followed after the delights of the eyes, therefore the 
Philistines bored them out. Absalom was proud of his hair, therefore 
by his hair he was hanged.'' 

fetters of brass] Heb. two fetters of brass, probably one for the hands 
and the other for the feet. Cf. 2 Kings xxv. 7. 

did grind~\ Heb. was grinding , i.e. that was his usual employment. 
It was the employment of slaves of the lowest class (Exod. xi. 5 and 
xii. 29), and to Greek and Roman slaves it was a punishment. See 
Horn. Od. VII. 103, 4, XX. 105 — 110; Terence, Phorm. II. 1, 18; 
Andr. I. 2, 27, 28. "He was more blinde when hee saw licentiously, 
then now, that he sees not ; He was a greater slave when he served his 
affections, then now, in grinding for the Philistines." Bp Hall. 

22. after'] Better, as margin, as when. When Samson's hair re- 
turned to the condition befitting a Nazarite, his strength returned. 

23. Dagon] "His form was a fish, as the name Dag signifies, but 
with human hands and feet and body" (cf. 1 Sam. v. 4). Movers, 
Phonizier, I. 591. He is called Derketo by profane writers. His 
worship, according to the same authority, is connected with the sea as 
prolific with life. Some, however, would derive from Dagan, corn, and 
interpret by Zeus Arotrios. The Assyrian Bel had also the name of 
Dagan, and this has been supposed (see Art. in Smith's Dictionary of 
the Bible) to point to a possible identity between Dagon and Bel. But 
Canon Rawlinson {Ancient Monarchies, II. 14) denies that there is any- 
thing in common between the two. Dagon had a temple at Ashdod as 
well as Gaza. See 1 Sam. v. 1, 2; 1 Chron. x. 10; 1 Mace. xi. 4. 

25. made them sport] Rather, as margin, made sport before tnem. 
The word is translated //ay in 1 Sam. xviii. 7; 2 Sam. vi. 5, 21. It 
means generally to make merry. It is used of a sham fight (2 Sam. ii. 
14), which however became a real one before it was over. It is no slight 
indication of the date of the book of Judges that while here the older 

174 JUDGES, XVI. [vv. 26—28. 

26 between the pillars. And Samson said unto the lad that 
held him by the hand, Suffer me that I may feel the pillars 
whereupon the house standeth, that I may lean upon them. 

2; Now the house was full of men and women ; and all the 
lords of the Philistines were there ; and there were upon the 
roof about three thousand men and women, that beheld 

2S while Samson made sport. And Samson called unto the 
Lord, and said, O Lord God, remember me, I pray thee, 
and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that 

and harsher form of the word is found, the later and softer form known 
to the later Hebrew occurs in the former part of the verse, thus marking 
a period of transition in the language. 

26. Suffer] Lit. cause me to rest, i.e. do not hinder me. Perhaps 
the meaning of St Luke xxii. 51 in the A. V. may derive some light from 
this passage. 

standeth] Lit. is supported. 

"The building was a spacious Theatre, 

Half round on two main pillars vaulted high. 
* •* * 

The other side was open, where the throng 

On banks and scaffolds under skie might stand." 

Samson Agonistes, 1605 — 10. 

lean upon then i] For rest after his exertions. Had he been "making 

sport" when he laid hold of the pillars upon which the house rested, he 

could hardly have been visible to the people on the roof. 

27. the house was full] Not only was there a goodly company on 
the roof, but underneath it. The persons of highest rank were ap- 
parently under cover. Three thousand persons of lesser quality occupied 
the roof, while the people of the lowest grade were in the court-yard. 

23. unto the Lord] Rather, unto Jehovah. 

Lord God ] Rather, Lord Jehovah. Jehovah is usually rendered 
Lord in the A.V., which thus leaves no other word by which to render 
the title Adonai, which here precedes Jehovah, and has the literal mean- 
ing of Lord. Elohim is the word usually rendered God by our trans- 

O God] Here Samson says Elohim, thus using three different titles 
of God, as was frequently the case in moments of great solemnity. 
Compare El Elohim Jehovah in Josh. xxii. 22 and Ps. 1. 1, where 
special emphasis is laid upon the Name of God. There is something 
deeply pathetic in this passage. Samson has no desire to live. Sorrow 
and suffering have deepened his character and weaned him from those 
sensual delights which have been his ruin. In his affliction his soul 
returns to God, whom he now addresses in language of the deepest 
reverence. That he had not been left altogether uninstructed in the law 
we learn from this threefold recognition of God as Lord or Ruler, as the 
Eternal self-existent One Who had revealed Himself to Moses, and as 

vv.29, 3o-l JUDGES, XVI. 175 

I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two 
eyes. And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars 2 9 
upon which the house stood, and on which it was borne up, 
of the one with his right hand, and of the other with his 
left. And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. 30 
And he bowed himself with all his might ; and the house 
fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were 
therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were 

the Mighty One before Whom the earlier Hebrews had bowed down. 
But he had not learned the deeper lesson. "Vengeance is Mine. I will 
repay, saith the Lord." The whole picture now given of Samson is ad- 
mirably consistent with what we elsewhere learn of the man and his age. 
that I may be at once avenged} Lit. and I will be avenged with one 
vengeance. The use of the cohortative form of the future here seems to 
suggest a more forcible rendering than that I may be avenged. Render, 
and let ine be avenged. 

29. took hold} The word is an unusual one which occurs here for 
the first time. See Ruth iii. 8 (margin) and Job vi. 18. Samson bent 
or clasped his hands or arms round the pillars. 

middle pillars] Samson was no doubt now at the entrance of the 
inner hall, with two pillars in front on which the building rested, and 
near enough together to enable a man of no very extraordinary stature to 
grasp them. The higher classes, as has been said, had gathered either 
under or upon the roof. In front of the building was a court-yard — see 
note on v, 26, 27 — in the midst of which Samson made sport. And 
while their victim was allowed some respite, the spectators remained on 
the roof, so that he was enabled to involve them in the general destruc- 

and on which it was borne up] Rather, as margin, and he leaned 
upon them, or was supported on them. See 2 Kings xviii. 21. 

30. Let me die] Lit. let my soul die, or my life, the Hebrew word 
nephesh, like the Greek ^uxv, being the usual expression for the principle 
of life which man has in common with the lower animals, though in his 
case, allied to a higher intelligence and superior faculties to theirs. 

he bowed himself with all his might] Lit. he bent with (or in) 

and the house fell] 

"This uttered, straining all his nerves he bowed 
As with the force of winds and waters pent, 
When Mountains tremble, those two massive Pillars 
With horrible convulsion to and fro, 
He tugged, he shook, till down they came and drew 
The whole roof after them, with burst of thunder 
Upon the heads of all who sate beneath, 
Lords, Ladies, Captains, Councellors, or priests, 
Their choice nobility and flower." 

Milton, Samson Agonistes^ 1646 — 54. 

176 JUDGES, XVI. XVII. [vv.31; 1,2. 

31 moe than they which he slew in his life. Then his brethren 
and all the house of his father came down, and took him, 
and brought him up, and buried him between Zorah and 
Eshtaol in the buryingplace of Manoah his father. And 
he judged Israel twenty years. 

Ch. XVII. 1 — 6. Micah 1 s theft and image worship, 

17 And there was a man of mount Ephraim, whose name 

2 was Micah. And he said unto his mother, The eleven 

hundred shekels of silver that were taken from thee, about 

moe] The ancient form of more. Compare the Christmas Carol, 
"All for to be taxed with many one moe." " Faith and troth they 
would no mo." Greene, Shepherd's Ode. 

31. Then his brethren.. .came down] Not his brethren in the strict 
sense, for he was an only child, but in the more general sense in which 
Lot is called the brother of Abraham, Gen. xiv. 14. 

the house of his father] Not the household of Manoah, but the whole 
tribal family to which Samson belonged. See note on ch. vi. 15. A 
large body of men would be required, even after this great disaster, to 
rescue the body of Samson from his enraged enemies. And in the down- 
trodden state of Israel at this time (see note on ch. xv. 11) it could 
only have been in a period of the greatest distress and confusion among 
the Philistines that Samson's body could have been recovered at all. 
Thus the various portions of the narrative mutually confirm each other. 

in the buryingplace] Manoah therefore was most probably dead, 
though Milton by a poetic fiction represents him as alive. See note on 
ch. viii. 32. 

he judged Israel] The term (see note on ch. ii. 16) simply implies a 
position of importance in Israel, and not of necessity what we now 
understand by judicial functions. 

Ch. XVII. 1 — 6. Micah's theft and image worship. 

1. Aitd there was a man] The date of the events which follow is 
fixed by ch. xx. 28 to have been much earlier than most which precedes 
it. For their proper position in the history and their having been added 
here, see Introduction, Ch. I. 

Micah] Heb. Micayahu (who is like Jehovah?), as Isaiah is Yeshayahu 
and Jeremiah Yirmyahu. The vowel termination is occasionally omitted, 
as in v. 5, and throughout the rest of the narrative. The name of the 
prophet Micah always appears in the latter form. The episode of 
Micah is introduced as leading to an account of the settlement of the 
tribe of Dan in Northern Palestine, and apparently, from the allusion 
to there being no king in Israel {v. 6, cf. ch. xviii. 1, xix. 1, xxi. 25) 
with a view of illustrating the lawlessness of the times. This fixes the 
date of the book as subsequent to David's accession, when first the 
blessing of a settled government was known. See Introduction, Ch. I. 

2. from thee] The Hebrew and the Alexandrian codex of the LXX. 
have to thee. The construction is probably elliptical, ''which belonged 

w. 3-5.] JUDGES, XVII. 177 

which thou cursedst, and spakest of also in mine ears, be- 
hold, the silver is with me; I took it. And his mother 
said, Blessed be thou of the Lord, my son. And when he 3 
had restored the eleven hundred shekels of silver to his 
mother, his mother said, I had wholly dedicated the silver 
unto the Lord from my hand for my son, to make a graven 
image and a molten image : now therefore I will restore it 
unto thee. Yet he restored the money unto his mother^ 
and his mother took two hundred shekels of silver, and gave 
them to the founder, who made thereof a graven image and 
a molten image : and they were in the house of Micah. 
And the man Micah had a house of gods, and made an 5 

to thee and were taken," or as we should say, u that money of yours 
which was taken." Ewald explains, "which was entrusted to thee" (by 
my father), and translates "I took" by "I will take." This however 
is extremely arbitrary. 

Blessed be thou of the Lord] Not, of course, because of the theft, but 
because of its acknowledgement. The Vulgate and LXX. translate 
more literally, Blessed be my son of the Lord. So Luther also renders. 

3. eleven hundred shekels of silver] See note on ch. xvi. 5, where 
the word supplied is pieces instead of shekels. 

dedicated] Lit. sanctified. So the LXX. The Vulgate has " con- 
secravi et vovi." 

unto the Lord] Hebrew, unto Jehovah. So soon had the precepts 
of the Law (Exod. xx. 4; Lev. xxvi. 1; Deut. iv. 16, xxvii. 15) faded 
from the minds of the people of Israel. Micah's mother could devote 
^135 (or ^165, see note on ch. xvi. 5) to the worship of Jehovah. She 
had not turned aside to other gods. Yet she had forgotten that no 
image or similitude was seen when God revealed Himself on Sinai, but 
only a voice was heard. See Deut. iv. 12. 

a graven image and a molten image] Cf. Deut. xxvii. 15. The Pesel 
was a carved image, whether of stone or wood (see Is. xliv. 15) or any 
other material (Is. xxx. 22). The Massechah (derived from nasach, to 
pour out) was of molten metal. The word is used of Aaron's calf in 
Exod. xxxii. 

4. Yet] Heb. and, which often in that language has the force of but. 
No such sense, however, is needed here. It is only an instance of 
the repetition so common in Hebrew. See ch. xx. 35, note. 

two hundred shekels] Micah's mother had not spoken the exact truth. 
When it came to the point she did not give one-fifth of what she had 

5. a house of gods'] Rather, a house of God. So LXX. and Vulgate. 
The Chaldee has a house of error. The name of God, Elohim, is a 
plural form, and may be translated God, or gods, as in ch. ii. 12, v. 8. 
See Appendix, Note I. The worship at Micah's temple was, as we 
have seen, a worship of Jehovah. See also v. 12. 

judges 1 2 

178 JUDGES, XVII. [w. 6, 7. 

ephod, and teraphim, and consecrated one of his sons, who 

6 became his priest. In those days there was no king in 
Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own 

7 — 13. 27ie Levite appointed Micah's priest. 

7 And there was a young man out of Beth-lehem-judah of 
the family of Judah, who was a Levite, and he sojourned 

an ephod] See ch. viii. 27. 

teraphim] Cf. Gen. xxxi. 19; 1 Sam. xv. 23 (where the A.V. has 
idolatry), xix. 13, 16; 2 Kings xxiii. 24; Hos. iii. 4. Sometimes, as in 
1 Sam. xix., they appear to have been of large size, and to have been 
representations of the human form. They were the Penates of the 
people of the East, from whom the Hebrews adopted them in spite of 
prohibitions. The name has been derived from a Semitic root signifying 
prosperity. In this image, ephod and teraphim, Hengstenberg sees a 
kind of caricature of the Divine worship, the image standing for the ark 
of the covenant, the ephod for the sacerdotal robes, the teraphim for the 
names of the 12 tribes which were engraven on 12 precious stones, and 
placed (Exod. xxviii. 9 — 12) upon the shoulders of the High Priest 
when he entered the sanctuary. The Levite, when he was fortunate 
enough to meet with him, was, to Micah's superstitious mind, a satis- 
factory substitute for the High Priest himself. 

consecrated} Ueb. pilled the hand. See Exod. xxviii. 41, xxix. 9, &c. ; 
Levit. vii. 37, viii. 33, xvi. 32; Numb. hi. 3. It means to fill the hand 
with sacrificial gifts, intended to be offered to Jehovah. The portions 
of the priest, together with the bread and cakes, were put into the hand 
of the priest. See Exod. xxix. 24; Levit. viii. 27. Also Bahr, Sym- 
bolik, 11. 426. 

became his priest] Jonathan here renders by Chomara, i.e. a heathen, 
as distinguished from an Israelite, priest. The latter term (Cohen) sig- 
nifies, according to many, a man of honourable position, and it is 
frequently translated prince. The Chomara was literally a person shut 
up, as in the monastic life, or set apart. 

7—13. The Levite appointed Micah's priest. 

7. family] See Josh. vii. 17, where the same expression occurs. In 
the latter passage the LXX. and Vulgate read the plural. Here, how- 
ever, they both have the singular, with the exception of the Vatican MS. 
of the LXX., which leaves the words out altogether. The Peshito 
also omits them. The passage in Joshua admits of the explanation that 
the reading is corrupt. Here, however, it clearly means that portion 
of the tribe of Levi which was resident in Judah. See Josh. xxi. 

who] Lit. and he, as below. 

a Levite] Who this Levite was we learn from ch. xviii. 30, where 
see note. According to Josh. xxi. the descendants of Aaron only were 

w. 8-i3; I-] JUDGES, XVII. XVIII. 179 

there. And the man departed out of the city from Beth- 8 
lehem-judah to sojourn where he could find a place : and he 
came to mount Ephraim to the house of Micah, as he 
journeyed. And Micah said unto him, Whence comest 9 
thou? And he said unto him, I am a Levite of Beth- 
lehem-judah, and I go to sojourn where I may find a place. 
And Micah said unto him, Dwell with me, and be unto me 10 
a father and a priest, and I will give thee ten shekels of silver 
by the year, and a suit of apparel, and thy victuals. So the 
Levite went in. And the Levite was content to dwell with « 
the man ; and the young man was unto him as one of his 
sons. And Micah consecrated the Levite ; and the young 12 
man became his priest, and was in the house of Micah. 
Then said Micah, Now know I that the Lord will do me 13 
good, seeing I have a Levite to my priest. 

Ch. XVIII. 1 — 10. The exploring expedition from Dan. 

In those days there was no king in Israel: and in those 18 

settled in the tribe of Judah. But in the matter of settlement it is pos- 
sible that the children of Moses may have been reckoned with the de- 
scendants of Aaron. It has been suggested by some that the grandson 
of the great prophet was discontented with his obscure position in the 
priestly ranks. 

8. as he journey ed\ Lit. to make his way. 

10. father] A term of respect. See Gen. xlv. 8; 2 Kings vi. 21, 
xiii. 14. So the Jews, and later still the Christians, in the East and 
West alike were accustomed to style their teachers. The title Papa or 
Pope (originally father) in the West confined to the head of the Roman 
Catholic Church is in the East applied to every parish priest. 

by the year] Lit. for days, days frequently standing for a full year. 
See margin of Gen. xxiv. 55 and 1 Sam. ii. 19, xxvii. 7. Also ch. xi. 40. 

victuals] From the Latin victus i literally, that by which we live. 
This is the precise equivalent of the Hebrew here. Compare our 
similar expression a living. 

12. a Levite] Heb. the Levite, i.e. a person of that rank of life. 
The indefinite article gives precisely the same impression in English. 
Micah's superstitious confidence was destined to be rudely shaken. If 
we are going to do wrong, priestly sanction will only make matters worse 
instead of better. That it was forbidden to set up images is shewn in 
the note on v. 3. 

Ch. XVIII. 1 — 10. The exploring expedition from Dan. 

1. in those days] By a comparison with Josh. xix. 47 we find that 
this must have been at a very early period, probably not long after the 
death of Joshua. 


180 JUDGES, XVIII. [vv. 2-7. 

days the tribe of the Danites sought them an inheritance to 
dwell in; for unto that day all their inheritance had not 

2 fallen unto them among the tribes of Israel. And the child- 
ren of Dan sent of their family five men from their coasts, 
men of valour, from Zorah and from Eshtaol, to spy out 
the land, and to search it ; and they said unto them, Go, 
search the land : who when they came to mount Ephraim, 

3 to the house of Micah, they lodged there. When they were 
by the house of Micah, they knew the voice of the young 
man the Levite: and they turned in thither, and said unto 
him, Who brought thee hither? and what makest thou in 

4 this place! and what hast thou here? And he said unto 
them, Thus and thus dealeth Micah with me, and hath 

5 hired me, and I am his priest. And they said unto him, 
Ask counsel^ we pray thee, of God, that we may know whether 

6 our way which we go shall be prosperous. And the priest 
said unto them, Go in peace : before the Lord is your way 

7 wherein ye go. Then the five men departed, and came to 
Laish, and saw the people that were therein, how they dwelt 

no king in Israel] There can be little doubt that this repetition 
implies a condemnation of the lawless proceedings related in this chapter. 
See ch. xvii. 6, xix. 1, xxi. 25. 

all their inheritance] Lit. in ox for an inheritance. But a comparison 
with Josh. xix. 47 shews that the true sense of the original is given in 
our version. A portion of the territory had been assigned them, but it 
was insufficient. And (ch. i. 34) they had been unable to take posses- 
sion even of all that had been assigned them. 

2. coasts] Literally ends. This is usually interpreted to mean from 
the whole of the people. So also in 1 Kings xii. 31, xiii. 33; 2 Kings 
xvii. 32. A kindred word has this meaning in Numb. xxii. 41. The 
LXX. and Vulgate render by kindred. 

men of valour] Literally men, sons of valour, 

3. When] The verse is parenthetical, and explains how they came 
to lodge there. 

knew the voice] Where they had seen him before we are not told. 
But (1) the tribes of Judah and Dan were near together, and (2) the 
Levite may in his wanderings (as indeed the questions of the Danites 
almost imply) have visited the tribe of Dan. 

makest thou] Lit. art thou doing. 

what hast thou] Probably "what means of subsistence," or "pay." 

5. ask counsel] No doubt after the same form as was used in the 
true worship of Jehovah. See ch. i. 1. 

6. before the Lord] Lit. direct before yehovah. 

7. Laish] Or Leshem, Josh. xix. 47. It was in the extreme north 

vv. 8— ii.] JUDGES, XVIII. 181 

careless, after the manner of the Zidonians, quiet and secure; 
and there was no magistrate in the land, that might put 
them to shame in any thing; and they were far from the 
Zidonians, and had no business with any man. And they 8 
came unto their brethren to Zorah and Eshtaol: and their 
brethren said unto them, What say ye? And they said, 9 
Arise, that we may go up against them: for we have seen 
the land, and behold, it is very good: and are ye still? be 
not slothful to go, and to enter to possess the land. When io 
ye go, ye shall come unto a people secure, and to a large 
land : for God hath given it into your hands ; a place where 
there is no want of any thing that is in the earth. 

1 1 — 21. The Danites seize MicaWs Seraphim. 

And there went from thence of the family of the Danites, u 

of Israel, as the expression "from Dan even unto Beersheba" implies. 
Canon Tristram {Bible Places ; p. 280) says : at the head of the plain at 
the south west angle of the base of Mount Hermon stands "a singularly- 
shaped flat- topped circular mound, half-a-mile in diameter, but only 
eighty feet high," bearing, one would suppose, some slight resemblance 
to the site of the ancient city of Old Sarum. It still is called Tell-el- 
Kadi, the mound of the judge, Dan having the signification of judge 
(see Gen. xxx. 6, xlix. 16). 

therein] Lit. in its midst. 

after the manner of the Zidonians] From this hint we learn (1) that 
the Zidonians were a peaceful and mercantile community, and (2) that 
the era of the great military monarchies of Asia had not yet arisen, when 
rich trading nationalities were compelled to take measures for their own 
protection, and when Tyre found it needful to emigrate from the main 
land to the island fortress, afterwards so famous. This retreat to the 
island, according to Movers (Phonizier, Vol. II. Pt. I. 180), began about 
the eighth century B.C. 

no ?nagistrate in the land, that might put them to shame in anything] 
Lit. no one in the land to injure t?ce?n in any matter (or at all), a pos- 
sessor of power. The LXX. renders and there was no 07ie disturbing or 
bringing them to shame a word (this is the literal translation of the 
Hebrew davar, which also means thing) in the land. The Vulgate, 
no one at all of great wealth who opposed them. What is meant is that 
no great potentate or powerful neighbour of any kind was near to harass 
them by invasion. The word translated put them to shame also means 
causing injury. 

9. and are ye still?] Or, perhaps, and ye are still. 

10. a large land] Lit. the land is broad on the two hands, i. e. widely 
extended on all sides, not cooped up in mountains as the Danites were. 
See ch. i. 34. 

1 82 JUDGES, XVIII. [vv. 12—17. 

out of Zorah and out of Eshtaol, six hundred men appointed 

12 with weapons of war. And they went up, and pitched in 
Kirjath-jearim, in Judah: wherefore they called that place 
Mahaneh-dan unto this day: behold, it is behind Kirjath- 

13 jearim. And they passed thence unto mount Ephraim, and 

14 came unto the house of Micah. Then answered the five 
men that went to spy out the country of Laish, and said 
unto their brethren, Do ye know that there is in these 
houses an ephod, and teraphim, and a graven image, and a 
molten image ? now therefore consider what ye have to do. 

15 And they turned thitherward, and came to the house of the 
young man the Levite, even unto the house of Micah, and 

16 saluted him. And the six hundred men appointed with 
their weapons of war, which were of the children of Dan, 

17 stood by the entering of the gate. And the five men that 
went to spy out the land went up, and came in thither, and 
took the graven image, and the ephod, and the teraphim, 
and the molten image : and the priest stood in the entering 
of the gate with the six hundred men that were appointed 

11—21. The Danites seize Micah's Seraphim. 

11. appointed} Lit. girded, as margin. 

12. Kirjath-jearim} Now Kuriet-el-Enab (the city of the grape). 
By some the city has been placed farther south. But it is identified with 
Kuriet-el-Enab by the following considerations: (1) it is near Gibeon 
(Josh. ix. 17), (2) it is here said to be on the way between Zorah and 
Eshtaol, in Dan, and mount Ephraim, and (3) the situation seems to 
agree best with the description of the border of Judah given in Josh, 
xv. 8 — 10. Lieut. Conder, however, in his last survey (1881) thinks he 
has found additional evidence to identify it with 'Arma. 

Mahaneh-dan~\ See ch. xiii. 25. 

14. answered} This is the usual meaning of the Hebrew word. 
But it sometimes means to speak, as in Job hi. 2. The Vulgate renders 
here by dixerunt. 

an ephod} See vers. 4 and 5. 

consider} The speech itself, no less than the action which was after- 
wards taken, is proof enough of the lawless condition of the country at 
that time. 

have to do} Rather, will do. 

15. turned thitherivard} i. e. out of the main road, this being the 
signification of the Hebrew. See ch. iv. 18, xix. 12. 

saluted him} Lit. as margin, "asked him of peace" i. e. inquired after 
his welfare. 

16. appointed} See note on v. it. So in the next verse. 

w. 18—22.] JUDGES, XVIII. 

With weapons of war. And these went into Micah's house, 18 
and fetched the carved image, the ephod, and the teraphim, 
and the molten image. Then said the priest unto them, 
What do ye ? And they said unto him, Hold thy peace, lay 19 
thine hand upon thy mouth, and go with us, and be to us a 
father and a priest : is it better for thee to be a priest unto 
the house of one man, or that thou be a priest unto a tribe 
and a family in Israel ? And the priest's heart was glad, 20 
and he took the ephod, and the teraphim, and the graven 
image, and went in the midst of the people. So they turned 21 
and departed, and put the little ones and the cattle and the 
carriage before them. 

22 — 26. The complaint of Micah and its result. 

And when they were a good way from the house of 2 -' 
Micah, the men that were in the houses near to Micah's 
house were gathered together, and overtook the children of 

18. And these went] After the Hebrew fashion, the writer emphasizes 
his previous account by a fuller detail. In the former verse the priest 
is simply represented as standing by. Now we find that he re- 

19. family] Either as in ch. xiii. 2 (where see note) or a subdivision 
of the tribe, as in Josh. vii. 17. 

21. and put] With a view to secure them in the case of a sudden 
attack by Micah and his neighbours. The unsettled state of Palestine 
would make them only too well accustomed to precautions against 
sudden attack. The Canaanites were as yet unsubdued (see ch. i.), and 
no doubt predatory excursions frequently swept the country. 

carriage] Lit. the valuables. This word, which now signifies that 
which carries, i. e. a vehicle, in the times of the A. V. signified that which 
was carried, luggage, baggage — see Acts xxi. 15. The termination 
-age (a Romance abbreviation of the Mediaeval Latin termination 
-aticum) properly signifies a state or condition, as courage, savage, voyage. 
It began about A. D. 1300 to be added, instead of the earlier hedeox head, 
to English words, as bondage (formerly bondehede). In the word carriage 
in the sense of behaviour, in which sense it is still used, the termination 
conforms to the general rule. But the active sense of the termination, 
as when carriage means that which carries, is unusual. We probably 
use it, however, when we speak of the cordage of a vessel. At least this 
word may serve to explain the transition from the passive to the 
active. So we speak of stoppage, leakage, and the like. 

22—26. The complaint of Micah and its result. 

22. overtook] Lit. caused to cleave. See ch. xx. 45, where it is less 
correctly rendered "pursued hard after them." Cf. also ch. xx. 42. 

184 JUDGES, XVIII. [w. 23—28. 

23 Dan. And they cried unto the children of Dan. And 
they turned their faces, and said unto Micah, What aileth 

24 thee, that thou comest with such a company? And he said, 
Ye have taken away my gods which I made, and the priest, 
and ye are gone away: and what have I more? and what is 

25 this that ye say unto me, What aileth thee? And the child- 
ren of Dan said unto him, Let not thy voice be heard among 
us, lest angry fellows run upon thee, and thou lose thy life, 

26 with the lives of thy household. And the children of Dan 
went their way: and when Micah saw that they were too 
strong for him, he turned and went back unto his house. 

27 — 31. The Capture of Laish. 

27 And they took the things which Micah had made, and the 
priest which he had, and came unto Laish, unto a people 
that were at quiet and secure : and they smote them with 

28 the edge of the sword, and burnt the city with fire. And 
there was no deliverer, because it was far from Zidon, and 
they had no business with any man; and it was in the 
valley that lieth by Beth-rehob. And they built a city, and 

23. comest with such a company} Lit. art called together. See 
ch. iv. 13. 

25. a?igry fellows] Lit. men bitter of soul. Cf. 2 Sam. xvii. 8, marg. 
The same word is translated life in the rest of the verse. 

run] See ch. viii. 21, xv. 12, where the word is the same as here. It 
most probably means lay hands on. 

lose] The word here used is unusual. It means originally to collect. 
Hence comes the meaning to take away. Hence to destroy, as in 
1 Sam. xv. 6. The threats of the children of Dan were more delicately 
veiled, perhaps, than is usual in a rude age. The language may have 
been a survival of the rigid discipline of Joshua and Moses. But there 
could be no mistake as to its meaning. If Micah persisted in claiming 
his property, they intended to retain it by force. 

2.7 — 31. The Capture of Latsh. 

28. from Zidon] That there was some kinship between the in- 
habitants of this city and the Zidonians would seem to be intimated 
here. See also v. 7. 

in the valley that lieth by Beth-rehob\ Or which leadeth to Beth- 
rehob. For the word translated valley see ch. i. 19, note. Beth-rehob 
is supposed by Robinson and Canon Tristram to be Hunin, south-west 
of Tell-el-Kadi or Dan. See Numb. xiii. 21, where it is described as 
the northern extremity of Palestine, and 2 Sam. x. 6. 8. It was at the 

vv. 29—31.] JUDGES, XVIII. 185 

dwelt therein, and they called the name of the city Dan, 29 
after the name of Dan their father, who was born unto 
Israel : howbeit the name of the city was Laish at the first. 
And the children of Dan set up the graven image : and 30 
Jonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Manasseh, he 
and his sons were priests to the tribe of Dan until the day 
of the captivity of the land. And they set them up Micah's 3* 

entrance to the Buk'eia (see note on ch. iii. 3). The word Rehob 
signifies breadth. See note on v. 10. 

a city] Rather the city, which had been partly laid in ruins by the 
siege. So the LXX. 

30. Jonathan] or " the gift of God." Compare our early Archbishop 
Deusdedit, A. D. 654. 

Manasseh] The Targum and the Syriac. The Vulgate has 
"Moysi." There can be no doubt that this is the correct reading. 
Even the Masorites note that the Nun which converts Mosheh into 
M'nasheh is a Nun t'louiah, i. e. a Nun suspended, as it were, above 
the line. It has obviously been introduced to avoid the scandal of 
the grandson of the great lawgiver having become the founder of an 
idolatrous religion. But the fact can hardly be evaded. Manasseh 
had no son named Gershom, but Moses had. See Exod. ii. 22, xviii. 
3, 4; 1 Chron. xxiii. 15, 16, xxvi. 24. And the fact is only too 
familiar a one, that name or reputation, however great or deserved, is 
not sufficient to keep the descendants of him who owned it in the right 
way, if they be disposed to disgrace their ancestry. The Rabbis have 
some singular explanations of the fact. Thus the Babylonian Talmud 
(Baba Bathra f. 109 b) says that it was because Jonathan did the deeds 
of the wicked Manasseh, king of Israel, that Scripture assigns him 
to that family. That the unwillingness to admit so rapid a falling 
away in the family of Moses existed at a very early period, appears from 
the fact that all the best copies of the LXX. contain the emendation. 

the captivity of the land] If this signifies the captivity by Senna- 
cherib, we must either believe that this passage was added by a later 
hand, or that the book itself was composed after Israel had been 
finally led away captive. But we are not compelled to adopt either 
of these suppositions. As Drusius asks, "Who would believe that the 
idolatrous worship of Micah could have been maintained at Dan during 
the reign of David?" The establishment of the worship of the golden 
calf by Jeroboam, too, would have been fatal to it. Besides, we 
have no mention of it after this date, and it seems impossible, in 
the great revival of the Mosaic ritual under Samuel, David and 
Solomon, that we should have had no mention of the Danite cultus, 
had it subsisted so long. We have also another note of time. The 
worship of Micah's image continued "all the time that the ark was 
in Shiloh. " This places the termination of that worship at the time of 
the memorable defeat recorded in 1 Sam. iv. Thus the "captivity" 
would seem to mean the Philistine domination, which extended, no 

1 86 JUDGES, XIX. [vv. i, 2. 

graven image, which he made, all the time that the house of 
God was in Shiloh. 

Ch. XIX. 1 — 30. The outrage at Gibeah. 

19 And it came to pass in those days, when there was no 
king in Israel, that there was a certain Levite sojourning on 
the side of mount Ephraim, who took to him a concubine 
2 out of Beth-lehem-judah. And his concubine played the 
whore against him, and went away from him unto her 
father's house to Beth-lehem-judah, and was there four whole 

doubt, even as far as Dan. This is the opinion of Kimchi, Grotius, 
and many others, and it is confirmed by the Hebrew of 1 Sam. iv. 
21, 22, where the expression "captivity of the land" is replaced by 
"captivity of the glory of Israel." 

was in Shiloh] This shews that the worship set up by Micah and 
conducted by the grandson of Moses was in deliberate opposition to the 
true worship of God in Shiloh. This, which was bad enough when 
confined to a private family, became far worse when extended to a 
considerable portion of a tribe. It is not impossible that jealousy at 
the comparatively unimportant part he had to play, in contrast with 
the distinguished position of the great lawgiver, may have influenced 
Jonathan in the step he took. 

Ch. XIX. 1 — 30. The outrage at Gibeah. 

The incidents related in this and the following chapters illustrate, 
and are intended to illustrate, the condition of Israel under the Judges. 
"The condition of Israel had, through the death of Joshua, become 
extremely unsettled. The only bond of union is to be sought in 
Phinehas, who, as being in possession of the Divine oracles, could 
exercise a certain amount of influence upon the heads of the tribes and 
the elders who exercised with him a joint authority, but who could not 
introduce a thorough and uniform system of government." Jost, Geschichte 
des Israelitischen Volkes, I. 167. 

1. Levite] "There is no complaint of a publikely disordered state, 
where a Levite is not at one end of it; either as an agent, or as a 
patient.... No tribe shall sooner feele the want of government, than that 
of Levi/' Bp. Hall. 

side] That is either the flanks, or, more probably, the recesses, i. e. 
the more retired portions of the mountain district. So Is. xxxvii. 24, 
Ps. xlviii. 3, where our version has "sides of the north;" but what is 
probably meant is that Zion is the joy of the distant parts (i. e. difficult 
of access), of the north. The LXX. has fjLrjpols. 

concubine] See note on ch. viii. 31. 

Beth-lehem-judah] Both these fragments of early history, as well as 
the book of Ruth, are connected in some way with Beth-lehem. See 
Introduction, Ch. I. 

vv . 3 _8.] JUDGES, XIX. 187 

months. And her husband arose, and went after her, to 3 
speak friendly unto her, and to bring her again, having his 
servant with him, and a couple of asses : and she brought 
him into her father's house: and when the father of the 
damsel saw him, he rejoiced to meet him. And his father 4 
in law, the damsel's father, retained him; and he abode with 
him three days: so they did eat and drink, and lodged 
there. And it came to pass on the fourth day, when they 5 
arose early in the morning, that he rose up to depart: and 
the damsel's father said unto his son in law, Comfort thine 
heart with a morsel of bread, and afterward go your way. 
And they sat down, and did eat and drink both of them 6 
together: for the damsel's father had said unto the man, Be 
content, I pray thee, and tarry all night, and let thine heart 
be merry. And when the man rose up to depart, his father 7 
in law urged him : therefore he lodged there again. And 8 
he arose early in the morning on the fifth day to depart: 
and the damsel's father said, Comfort thine heart, I pray 
thee. And they tarried until afternoon, and they did eat 

four whole months] Lit. days, four months. See ch. xiv. 8, xv. 1. 

3. and her husband arose] This expression implies that the relations 
between the man and his concubine were recognised by the Jewish law. 
His affection for her was great enough to excuse her unfaithfulness. 
The LXX. and Vulgate, as well as the Targum, attempt to soften down 
the misconduct of the woman. But our version, as well as the Arabic 
and Syriac, unquestionably gives the true sense of the Hebrew. 

friendly] Lit. U her heart. 

to bring her again] The Hebrew text has "to bring it, i. e. her heart, 
again." Our version follows the Masoretic correction. 

his servant] lAu^^oung man, but used here in the sense of an 
attendant, as v. 11 proves. 

a couple] Lit. a yoke. 

she brought him] The reconciliation was evidently instantaneous. 

rejoiced to meet him] Here, at least, in the conduct of the Levite and 
his father-in-law is a picture of simplicity of feeling and life which 
stands out brightly by contrast with the dark features of the terrible 
story that follows. 

4. retained him] The Heb. is significant of the warmth of the re- 
ception, laid fast hold on him. 

5. Comfort] Rather, strengthen, or stay. So in v. 8. See also 
Gen. xviii. 5 and margin, 1 Kings xiii. 7. 

6. Be content] Lit. be willing. See ch. xvii. 11, also note on 
ch. i. 27. The LXX. here and elsewhere translates begin. 

8. tarried] Rather, lingered. See note on ch. iii. 6. 

JUDGES, XIX. [vv. 9— 12. 

9 both of them. And when the man rose up to depart, he, 
and his concubine, and his servant, his father in law, the 
damsel's father, said unto him, Behold now, the day draweth 
towards evening, I pray you tarry all night: behold, the 
day groweth to an end, lodge here, that thine heart may be 
merry; and to morrow get you early on your way, that thou 

10 mayest go home. But the man would not tarry that night, 
but he rose up and departed, and came over against Jebus, 
which is Jerusalem; and there were with him two asses sad- 

" died, his concubine also was with him. And when they 
were by Jebus, the day was far spent; and the servant said 
unto his master, Come, I pray thee, and let us turn in into 

12 this city of the Jebusites, and lodge in it. And his master 
said unto him, We will not turn aside hither into the city of 
a stranger, that is not of the children of Israel; we will 

afternoon] Lit. the declining of the day. 

9. draweth towards evening] Lit. slacke7ts to be dark, i.e. darkness 
will soon come on. This was the fact. They had not ridden above 
seven miles before they were obliged to think of shelter for the night. 
Rabbi Kimchi explains the phrase thus : the strength of the day is at 
noon, its slackening or weakening when light and heat become feebler, 
i. e. towards eventide. 

the day groweth to an end] Lit. the bending of the day. 

that thou mayest go home] Lit. to thy tent. This picture of the 
pressing invitations of the warm-hearted host, and the irresolution of 
the invited guest, anxious to depart, yet unwilling to displease by re- 
fusing to stay, gives a life-like touch to the narrative. 

10. But the man would not tarry that night] "His resolution at 
last breakes thorow those kind hinderances.... It is a good hearing that 
the Levite makes haste home. A good man's heart is where his calling 
is." Bp. Hall. 

Jebus] Here we have the ancient name of the city. It is only found 
again in 1 Chron. xi. 4, 5. It was probably the provincial name, by 
which the town was called in its immediate neighbourhood. The name 
Jerusalem (or rather Jemshalaim — " secure foundation") was that by 
which the strong mountain fastness was more widely known. The 
occurrence of the local name in these two passages suggests that the 
historian had contemporaneous documents before him when he wrote. 

two asses] Lit., as above, a yoke of asses. 

11. was far spent] Lit. was gone down exceedi7igly. 
his master] Heb. his lord. So in the next verse. 

this city of the Jebusites] Jerusalem, therefore, had never continued 
in the hands of the Jews, though they may have taken and destroyed 
some portion of it. See note on ch. i. 8. 

12. a stranger] The Levite feared the lawless habits of the Phoenician 

vv. 13—15.] JUDGES, XIX. 189 

pass over to Gibeah. And he said unto his servant, Come, I3 
and let us draw near to one of these places to lodge all 
night, in Gibeah, or in Ramah. And they passed on and I4 
went their way ; and the sun went down upon them when 
they were by Gibeah, which belongeth to Benjamin. And I5 
they turned aside thither, to go in and to lodge in Gibeah: 
and when he went in, he sat him down in a street of the 
city: for there was no man that took them into his house to 

cities, in which such proceedings as those at Gibeah were regarded as 
a way of doing honour to their gods. But the people of Gibeah had 
only too fully learned — even thus early — the lessons of unrestrained 
licence taught them by their Phoenician neighbours. 

Gibeah] The meaning is Hill-town. The frequent occurrence of 
such names as Gibeon, Gibeah (or Gibeath), Geba (or Gaba), would 
remind us, if we were tempted to forget it, of the fact that Palestine 
was essentially a hill country. So also do the names Ramah, or 
Ramath, or Ramoth (high place — see next verse), Mizpah (watch-tower), 
which were of frequent occurrence. We may compare the frequency 
with which berg in German and bryn (hill) in Welsh occur as names of 
places. See also Dean Stanley's remarks {Sinai and Palestine, ch. iv.). 
Some have supposed Geba or Gaba to have been identical with Gibeah. 
But this is impossible (see Josh, xviii. 24, 28, and Is. x. 29, where they 
are distinguished from one another). This Gibeah (there is another 
mentioned in Josh. xv. 57) is better known as Gibeah of Saul. See 
1 Sam. x. 26, xi. 4, xiii. 2, 15, 16 (where the Heb. text has Geba, but 
probably erroneously), xv. 34 ; 2 Sam. xxi. 6 r &c. It was in the 
tribe of Benjamin, and is identified by Canon Tristram as well as 
Robinson and Ritter with Tuleil el Ful, four miles east of Mizpeh and 
rather more than four miles north of Jerusalem, twenty furlongs according 
to Josephus {Ant V. 2). Lieut. Conder, however, has supposed it not 
to be the name of a town, but of a district near Jerusalem. See Ap- 
pendix, Note IV. Mr Kirkpatrick {Commentary on 1 Samuel) sup- 
poses that by the hill of God, 1 Sam. x. 5 (Gibeath Elohim), Gibeah is 

13. Ramah] See note on ch. iv. 5. Beside the number of places 
of which Ramath or Ramoth forms a part of the name, there are three 
places called Ramah in the Bible. Of these one was in Lower, the 
other in Upper Galilee (Josh. xix. 21, 36). The Ramah mentioned 
here was, like Gibeah, in the territory of Benjamin (Josh, xviii. 25). 

15. a street of the city] Lit. a broad place. Hence it may have 
been (1) a wide street (it is so translated in Jer. ix. 21, but in Jer. v. 
1 it has been rendered broad places), like the Greek irXareTa, or (2) 
what we now call a square (the French place, the Italian piazza — 
derived from 7r\areta). See also Deut. xiii. 16. The LXX. renders 
here and elsewhere by 7rXare?a. 

took] Lit. gathered* So marg. in v. 18. 

190 JUDGES, XIX. [vv. 16—21. 

16 And behold, there came an old man from his work out of 
the field at even, which was also of mount Ephraim; and he 
sojourned in Gibeah: but the men of the place were Ben- 

t 7 jamites. And when he had lift up his eyes, he saw a way- 
faring man in the street of the city : and the old man said, 

18 Whither goest thou? and whence comest thou? And he said 
unto him, We are passing from Beth-lehem-judah toward 
the side of mount Ephraim ; from thence am I : and I went 
to Beth-lehem-judah, but I am now going to the house of the 
Lord ; and there is no man that receiveth me to house. 

19 Yet there is both straw and provender for our asses ; and 
there is bread and wine also for me, and for thy handmaid, 
and for the young man which is with thy servants : there is 

20 no want of anything. And the old man said, Peace be 
with thee; howsoever let all thy wants lie upon me; only 

2. lodge not in the street. So he brought him into his house, 
and gave provender unto the asses : and they washed their 

16. And behold] The narrative in this verse is true to human nature 
in all ages. The circumstances narrated might have happened yesterday, 
in any part of the world. The old man coming in from his work (the 
inhospitality of the people of the town, it is to be feared, might some- 
times find a parallel now), his meeting with people from his own neigh- 
bourhood, and the interest he, as a sojourner among strangers, is thereby 
moved to take in them, their willing acceptance of his offer of a lodging, 
and his generous resolution to provide them with food as well, though 
they declared they did not need it — all this gives a very vivid and 
pleasing picture of the life of at least some among the people in that far 
distant age. 

17. a wayfaring maii\ Rather, the wayfaring man, or, as we should 
say, the traveller, 

18. side] See v. 1. 

but I am now going to the house of the Lord] If (1) we accept this 
translation we must suppose that the Levite was actually going to 
Shiloh, near which he resided, for it was in the mountain district of 
Ephraim (see ch. xxi. 19). Or (2) we may take the word translated 
"going" of the Levite's profession or walk in life (as in Ps. i. 1), Cassel 
and Keil prefer the later translation. The LXX. has "unto my house." 

19. provender] Heb. mixture, i.e. of grain and other kinds of food. 
See Is. xxx. 24; Job vi. 5, xxiv. 6 (marg.). The English word, like pre- 
bend, comes from the Latin praebenda, things granted for sustenance. The 
Italian provianda suggests the idea of pi-ovisions for the way, but the 
idea was probably suggested, as in many other instances, by similarity 
of sound. The French provende, and our English word, retain the true 

vv. 22—25.] JUDGES, XIX. T91 

feet, and did eat and drink. Now as they were making 22 
their hearts merry, behold, the men of the city, certain sons 
of Belial, beset the house round about, and beat at the door, 
and spake to the master of the house, the old man, saying, 
Bring forth the man that came into thine house, that we 
may know him. And the man, the master of the house, 23 
went out unto them, and said unto them, Nay, my brethren, 
nay, I pray you, do not so wickedly; seeing that this man is 
come into mine house, do not this folly. Behold, here is my 24 
daughter a maiden, and his concubine ; them 1 will bring 
out now, and humble ye them, and do with them what 
seemeth good unto you : but unto this man do not so vile a 
thing. But the men would not hearken to him: so the man 25 
took his concubine, and brought her forth unto them ; and 
they knew her, and abused her all the night until the morn- 
ing: and when the day began to spring, they let her go. 

thy servants] In speaking of his concubine as a handmaid and him- 
self as a servant, he was but following the universal custom of the East. 
See Gen. xviii. 3 (where it is to be remembered that Abraham did not 
yet know the character of his guests; cf. v. 1); 1 Sam. i. 16; 2 Kings iv. 

22. sons of Belial] Belial signifies worthlessness; sons of Belial, 
worthless men; cf. our familiar expressiongood-for-nothing, and the French 
gens qui ne valent rien. So also " daughter of Belial," 1 Sam. i. 16, 
a "thing of Belial," i.e. a wicked thing, Deut. xv. 9; Ps. xli. 8 (marg.), 
&c. Milton has personified what is purely an abstract conception in 
Paradise Lost, Book I. 109 — 118. 

beat] The word itself (see Gen. xxxiii. 13), and especially the reflec- 
tive conjugation which is used here (see Ewald, Heb. Gr. 124 a) seem, 
to imply an eager knocking or pushing at the door, such that each one 
strove as eagerly for himself as though no one else were doing so. The 
reflective voice of the verb is formed in Hebrew from the intensitive. 
The narrative henceforth bears a close resemblance to that in Gen. xix., 
but without the miracle. 

23. folly] With the sense of wickedness, as in Gen. xxxiv. 7; Josh, 
vii. 15. So also ch. xx. 6, 10. 

24. so vile a thing] Heb., as marg., the matter of this folly. See last 
note. However much the Jewish law may have done to raise the 
position of women — and it did a good deal (though it must be admitted 
that an exception exists in the case of early Assyrian and Babylonian 
history) — they yet were in a very inferior position, as this sad history 
shews. Under our Christian civilization a man would be utterly dis- 
graced who could descend to conduct like this. 

25. when the day began to spring] Lit. at the going tip of the dawn. 

192 JUDGES, XIX. [vv. 26—30. 

26 Then came the woman in the dawning of the day, and fell 
down at the door of the man's house where her lord was, till 

27 it was light. And her lord rose up in the morning, and 
opened the doors of the house, and went out to go his way : 
and behold, the woman his concubine was fallen down at 
the door of the house, and her hands were upon the thresh- 

28 hold. And he said unto her, Up, and let us be going. But 
none answered. Then the man took her up upon an ass, 
and the man rose up, and gat him unto his place. 

29 And when he was come into his house, he took a knife, 
and laid hold on his concubine, and divided her, together with 
her bones, into twelve pieces, and sent her into all the coasts 

30 of Israel. And it was so, that all that saw it said, There 
was no such deed done nor seen from the day that the 
children of Israel came up out of the land of Egypt unto 
this day: consider of it, take advice, and speak your minds. 

26. in the dawning of the day] Lit. at the turning or appearing 
of the mo?'ning. 

27. doors'] See ch. iii. 24. 

to go his way] It does not follow, because nothing is said about a 
search for his wife here, that he meant to leave her behind. The whole 
tenor of the narrative forbids us to suppose this. 

door] Heb. opening. 

28. upon an ass] Rather, upon the ass. 

gat him] Heb. went. Nothing is said of his feelings here. But what 
they were may be gathered from what follows. His grief and indignation 
were shewn in a manner terrible even to men in that rude age, as the 
sequel shews. 

29. knife] A common eating-knife, as we learn from the derivation. 
The original has the knife. 

divided] As m sacrifice. See Exod. xxix. 17 ("cut in pieces," A.V.); 
Levit. i. 6. See also 1 Sam. xi. 7. 

together with] Or "even to," or "according to" (so LXX.), i.e. 
describing the manner in which the deed was done. 

coasts] Heb. border, or boundary. 

30. And it was so] The copies of the LXX. have considerable 
variations in the rendering of vv. 28 — 30, but none of them are of much 
importance. But the Alexandrian Codex and many other editions add 
after this verse "and he charged the men whom he sent forth, saying, 
Thus shall ye say to every man of Israel, If it hath taken place accord- 
ing to this word from the day of the going up of the sons of Israel from 
Egypt unto this day. Take counsel concerning this and speak. " The 
very close adherence to the Hebrew idiom in the Greek here translated, as 
well as the Hebrew habit of repetition, make it extremely probable that 
we have here a genuine passage which has been omitted by an early 
copyist from the fact that most of it has been repeated twice over. 

w. i, 2.] JUDGES, XX. 193 

Ch. XX. 1 — 10. The deliberation and decision of Israel. 

Then all the children of Israel went out, and the congre- 20 
gation was gathered together as one man, from Dan even to 
Beer-sheba, with the land of Gilead, unto the Lord in Miz- 
peh. And the chief of all the people, even of all the tribes 2 
of Israel, presented themselves in the assembly of the people 
of God, four hundred thousand footmen that drew sword. 

take advice] Translated give advice in ch. xx. 7, take counsel in Is. 
viii. io. 

Ch. XX. 1—10. The deliberation and decision of Israel. 

1. from Dan even to Beer-sheba] That is, as. a glance at the map 
shews, from one extremity of Israel to the other. See also note on ch. 
xviii. 28, and 1 Sam. iii. 20; 2 Sam. iii. 10, &c. It is a slight but not 
unimportant token of historical accuracy that Israel is not said, on a 
similar occasion not long previously (Josh. xxii. 12), to have come to- 
gether "from Dan even unto Beer-sheba." Such an expression is not 
used until after the time when Dan became the northern boundary of 
the Israelite territory. Beer-sheba (the well of the oath) is familiar to 
the readers of the Pentateuch. See Gen. xxi. 14, xxii. 19, xxvi. 33. It 
still keeps its ancient name, and is known as Bir Seba, where three wells 
are still to be found. So the latest explorer, Lieut. Conder. See also 
Bartlett, From Egypt to Palestine, 403; Tristram, Land of Israel, 372. 

with the land of Gilead] Thus the expression "from Dan even unto 
Beer-sheba" was not supposed to include the land of Gilead. And indeed 
the inclusion of the country beyond Jordan would have been geographically 
inaccurate. The close connection between Israel east of the Jordan 
with the rest of Israel confirms the view that these events occurred soon 
after the death of Joshua. Cf. Josh. xxii. 

unto the Lord] It would seem from vv. 18, 23, 26 — 28 (and notes), 
that the ark had been removed from Shiloh. No doubt the ark on 
occasions of importance like the present was moved from Shiloh. See 
also note on v. 18. 

in Mizpeh] Not the Mizpeh or Mizpah of ch. x. 17, xi. n, which 
was beyond Jordan. This Mizpeh was Mizpah in Benjamin. It was 
four miles from Gibeah (see above, ch. xix. 12) and was situated on the 
loftiest hill in the neighbourhood. It is now known as Nebi Samwil 
(the prophet Samuel), being the traditional place of his residence while 
he judged Israel (see I Sam. vii. 5 — 17, x. 17, &c). Lieut. Conder 
thinks it was the same as Nob (r Sam. xxi. 1, xxii. 9 — 19). There 
were several other places of this name. See Josh. xi. 3, xv. 38 ; 1 Sam. 
xxii. 3. 

2. chief] Lit. pinnacles or angles. See 1 Sam. xiv. 38 (marg.); 
Ps. cxviii. 22; Is. xix. 13 (marg.), &c. 

presented themselves] Lit. stationed themselves. 

that drew sword] It was a military assembly, ready for active mea- 
judges ix 

194 JUDGES, XX. [vv. 3-8. 

3 (Now the children of Benjamin heard that the children of 
Israel were gone up to Mizpeh.) Then said the children of 

4 Israel, Tell us, how was this wickedness ? And the Levite, 
the husband of the woman that was slain, answered and 
said, I came into Gibeah that belongeth to Benjamin, I and my 

5 concubine, to lodge. And the men of Gibeah rose against 
me, and beset the house round about upon me by night, 
and thought to have slain me : and my concubine they 

6 forced, that she is dead. And I took my concubine, and cut 
her in pieces, and sent her throughout all the country of the 
inheritance of Israel: for they have committed lewdness and 

7 folly in Israel. Behold, ye are all children of Israel; give 

8 here your advice and counsel. And all the people arose as 

sures in case the Benjamites should refuse satisfaction. No doubt Miz- 
peh was chosen because of its nearness to Gibeah. The number, as com- 
pared with the scanty numbers that followed Gideon, indicates a time 
before the bond of union between the tribes had been loosened by mis- 
fortune and sin. 

3. Now the children of Benjamin] This verse is correctly placed in 
a parenthesis in the A. V. The reason of its insertion here is probably 
the idea in the mind of the writer that the Benjamites intentionally 
absented themselves, and thus threw in their lot with the offenders in 
their tribe. See vv. 12 — 14. 

how was this wickedness ?] Rather, how was this wickedness done ? 

5. men] Lit. lords, as in ch. ix. 2. Cf. Josh. xxiv. n. 

thought to have slain me] The men of Gibeah had not expressly said 
this, but the Levite was justified in assuming that they would have dealt 
no more tenderly with him than with his concubine. 

6. country] Heb. field, Luther fielder. Other versions translate with 
more or less freedom. 

lewdness] The word lezodness in the A. V. has not always the 
meaning it has since acquired. See Acts xvii. 5, xviii. 14. Derived 
from the old English leod (the same as the Greek Xaos) it originally 
meant much the same as our word common or vulgar. But inasmuch 
as the manners of the common people were too often gross, the word 
came to have this latter meaning. Both the earlier and the later 
meaning occur in Chaucer. Compare 

For lewed people loven tales olde. 

Pardoners Tale. 

Swiche olde lewed wordes used he. 

Marchantes Tale. 
The stronger meaning is undoubtedly suggested here by the Hebrew, 
which has undergone a similar degradation, meaning originally only pur- 
pose, and then <?zy// purpose. See Levit. xviii. 17. 

w. 9— ii.] JUDGES, XX. 195 

one man, saying, We will not any of us go to his tent, neither 
will we any of us turn into his house. But now this shall be 9 
the thing which we will do to Gibeah; we will go up by lot 
against it; and we will take ten men of an hundred through- 10 
out all the tribes of Israel, and an hundred of a thousand, 
and a thousand out of ten thousand, to fetch victual for the 
people, that they may do, when they come to Gibeah of 
Benjamin, according to all the folly that they have wrought 
in Israel. 

11 — 17. The action of Israel and Benjamin's reply. 

So all the men of Israel were gathered against the city, it 
knit together as one man. 

8. tent] This word came to have the sense of habitation when the 
Israelites were settled in Palestine. Cf. Ps. cxxxii. 3 ; Is. xvi. 5. 

turn] The word has generally the meaning of turning aside from the 
way. See for instance ch. xix. 11, 12. It seems here to imply that to 
go home leaving this crime unpunished would be a dereliction of duty. 

9. we will go up by lot] Keil prefers the rendering "we will cast 
lots upon it, " which is given by the Syriac, and supposes that the city is 
doomed to destruction, like the cities of the Canaanites. But the words 
"we will go," supplied by the A. V., following the LXX., are not against 
the context, and inasmuch as they are almost identical in Hebrew with 
the against it that follows, they may easily have been omitted by the 
copyist. The answer of God given in v. 18 may have been given by the 
casting of the lot, after a religious service in the tabernacle. The lot 
was frequently used as a means of discovering the Divine will. See 
Josh. vii. 16, xiv. 2; 1 Sam. x. 20, 21. 

10. to fetch victual for the people] These commissariat arrangements, 
as we should call them, shew that the people (1) were accustomed to 
war, and (2) that it was expected, from the absence of the Benjamites 
from the assembly, that the warlike operations would take some time. 
See also note on v. 15. For victttal (Heb.) see note on ch. vii. 8, and 
for the English word ch. xvii. 10. 

to Gibeah] The Hebrew here has Gebd, the final He having been 
accidentally left out. 

11 — 17. The action of Israel and Benjamin's reply. 

11. knit together as one man] Lit. as one man, confederates. 
The LXX. does not translate the word confederates. It is quite possible 
that it is a later gloss. The unanimity of Israel speaks highly for the 
national character at this time, just as subsequent disorganization is 
only too clear an indication of retrogression. Never under the kings, 
says Bertheau, "was there so united, strong, earnest an Israel, under- 
taking from the very highest motives a struggle of the most arduous de- 
scription. - Here we feel the effect of the grand days of Moses and 


196 JUDGES, XX. [vv. 12—16. 

12 And the tribes of Israel sent men through all the tribe 
of Benjamin, saying, What wickedness is this that is done 

13 among you ? Now therefore deliver us the men, the chil- 
dren of Belial, which are in Gibeah, that we may put them 
to death, and put away evil from Israel. But the children 
of Benjamin would not hearken to the voice of their brethren 

14 the children of Israel: but the children of Benjamin gathered 
themselves together out of the cities unto Gibeah, to go out 

15 to battle against the children of Israel. And the children 
of Benjamin were numbered at that time out of the cities 
twenty and six thousand men that drew sword, beside the 
inhabitants of Gibeah, which were numbered seven hundred 

16 chosen men. Among all this people there were seven hun- 

Joshua." See also Hengstenberg, History of the Kingdom of God, II. 

3> 3- 

12. tribe of Benjamin] The original has tribes, an unusual expression. 
But the Yod may have crept into the text by mistake, See ch. xxi. 8. 

13. put away] Lit. burn up, 

children of Benjamin] The words *' children of" are supplied by the 
Masorites here. They are not in the text, but are to be found in the 
LXX. It is most probable that as the word B'ni occurs twice over, in 
the first place as sons and in the next as the first three letters of the 
word Benjamin, they have been omitted by mistake. 

their brethren] No doubt put in by the historian to heighten the 
reader's sense of the folly and obstinacy of Benjamin. 

15. numbered] Lit. visited. Perhaps better mustered. See also 
v. 17. 

twenty and six thousand] The LXX, (Codex Alex.) reads twenty- 
five thousand. This agrees best with vv. 35, 47, according to which 
25, iqo fell in battle and 600 escaped, though, as Keil observes, some 
may also have fallen in the former engagements. The Vulgate has this 
reading. The Codex Vaticanus of the LXX., however, has 23,000. If 
it be asked how the Benjamites could possibly have resisted so over- 
whelming a force of their adversaries, the answer may be found in the 
precipitous nature of the country, where the sling {v. 16) and the bow 
could be used from under cover with murderous effect against a foe un- 
able to come to close quarters. As with Joshua at Ai— -in this very 
neighbourhood, be it remembered, and (to use a more modern example) 
William the Conqueror at Senlac, nothing but a feigned flight could 
avail to draw the enemy from their vantage ground. Hence, too, the 
apparently inexplicable question (v. 18), " Which of us shall go up first ? " 
Numbers gave no advantage in such a conflict. Only tried skill and 
valour was of any avail. And experience in mountain warfare (ch. i. 
1 — 20) was pre-eminently the possession of the tribe of Judah. 

w. 17—19.] JUDGES, XX. 197 

dred chosen men lefthanded ; every one could sling stones 
at a hair breadth^ and not miss. And the men of Israel, 17 
beside Benjamin, were numbered four hundred thousand 
men that drew sword : all these were men of war. 

18 — 48. The conflict at Gibeah. 
And the children of Israel arose, and went up to the house 18 
of God, and asked counsel of God, and said, Which of us 
shall go up first to the battle against the children of Benja- 
min ? And the Lord said, Judah shall go up first. And 19 

16. seven hundred chosen men] These must not be confounded with 
the men of Gibeah. 

lefthanded] See ch. iii. 15. 

at a hair breadth] Lit. to the hair, and so LXX. The Vulgate 
has "so that they could hit a hair." And Rabbi Tanchum explains 
that they could aim at an hair and hit it ! The meaning is, of course, 
that, as we should say, they could hit their mark within an hair's 

miss] It is perhaps worth remarking that from the Hebrew word 
here used the word signifying sin is derived. The same conception is 
preserved in N. T. Greek. 

17. four hundred thousand] See v. 2. 

18 — 48. The conflict at Gibeah. 

18. to the house of God] Or, to Beth-el. We must either suppose 
(1) that Beth-el here means the tabernacle itself, or (2) with authorities 
such as Keil, Bertheau, Jost, that the tabernacle, after having been 
taken to Mizpah from the urgent need of immediate consultation with 
the oracle, was now removed out of the immediate proximity of the 
fight to Beth-el, "the rendezvous of the military portion of the commu- 
nity" (Bertheau). This is no doubt the meaning of v. 27. See note 
there and on v. 31. See also 1 Sam. x. 3, which, however, implies that 
the tabernacle was then at Beth-el. The tabernacle is. called the "house 
of Jehovah," or of Elohim, but never the "house of El." Bethel was 
about 10 miles fiom Mizpah. Jost remarks how early the loose obser- 
vance of the Law appears to have crept in. Already is the ark taken 
from place to place, as necessity requires. Already we hear nothing of 
the three yearly gatherings, but only of the ark being used to inquire by. 
Nor does the mention of the yearly feast of the daughters of Shiloh 
(ch. xxi. 19) appear to have been kept by many beside themselves. 
With this agrees the consistent absence of any further mention of the 
worship of Jehovah. See Introduction. 

asked counsel of God] See note on ch. i. 1. 

first] Lit. at the beginning, here and below. Cf. also ch. i. 1. The 
Vulg. has princeps certaminis. Luther, better, anzufangen. 
And the Lord said] Lit. and Jehovah said. " It is Jehovah that 

193 JUDGES, XX. [vv. 20—26. 

the children of Israel rose up in the morning, and encamped 

20 against Gibeah. And the men of Israel went out to battle 
against Benjamin ; and the men of Israel put themselves in 

21 array to fight against them at Gibeah. And the children of 
Benjamin came forth out of Gibeah, and destroyed down to 
the ground of the Israelites that day twenty and two thou- 

22 sand men. And the people the men of Israel encouraged 
themselves, and set their battle again in array in the place 

23 where they put themselves in array the first day. (And the 
children of Israel went up and wept before the Lord until 
even, and asked counsel of the Lord, saying, Shall I go 
up again to battle against the children of Benjamin my 

24 brother? And the Lord said, Go up against him.) And 
the children of Israel came near against the children of 

25 Benjamin the second day. And Benjamin went forth against 
them out of Gibeah the second day, and destroyed down to 
the ground of the children of Israel again eighteen thousand 

26 men ; all these drew the sword. Then all the children of 
Israel, and all the people, went up, and came unto the house 
of God, and wept, and sat there before the Lord, and fasted 
that day until even, and offered burnt offerings and peace 

answers, but the inquiry was addressed to Elohim" Cassel. See note 
on ch. xvi. 28. 

20. put the?nselves in array] Or, as we should say, drew up in 
order of battle. 

22. encouraged themselves] Lit. strengthened themselves. The Ber- 
lerburger Bible thinks that it was a sign of vain-glory that they took up 
the same position on the second day. But there seems no reason for 
believing this, though we may well believe that Israel had already deserved 
the chastisement which this conflict brought on them. This verse is out 
of its chronological place, as is so often the case in Hebrew narrative. 
The Israelites first implored guidance after their reverse, and then pro- 
ceeded to take up the position of the previous day. 

23. until even] No doubt, of the day of the first fight. The troops 
of Judah had been unskilfully handled and had fallen into confusion, and 
the Benjamites rushed from their hiding places and cut them down in 
their retreat. Hence a very great and rapid slaughter, early in the day, 
and a hasty retreat, after which a large number betook themselves to 
Bethel and spent the rest of the day in religious exercises. 

go up] The phrase here is somewhat unusual ; literally, approach, 
my brother] The words indicate a desire to withdraw from this 
intestine strife. 

26. and offered burnt offerings] The religious observances were of 

vv. 27—31.] JUDGES, XX. 199 

offerings before the Lord. And the children of Israel in- 27 
quired of the Lord, (for the ark of the" -covenant of God 
was there in those days, and Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, 2S 
the son of Aaron, stood before it in those days,) saying, 
Shall I yet again go out to battle against the children of 
Benjamin my brother, or shall I cease ? And the Lord 
said, Go up; for to morrow I will deliver them into thine 
hand. And Israel set Hers in wait round about Gibeah. 29 
And the children of Israel went up against the children of 30 
Benjamin on the third day, and put themselves in array 
against Gibeah, as at other times. And the children of Ben- 31 
jamin went out against the people, and were drawn away 
from the city; and they began to smite of the people, and 
kill, as at other times, in the highways, #/" which one goeth 
up to the house of God, and the other to Gibeah in the field, 

a more solemn character on this second occasion. We read of no fast- 
ing, nor offering of burnt offerings and peace offerings on the previous 
Occasion. For the burnt offering see Lev. i., for the peace offering, 
Lev. iii., vii. n — 21, 29 — 34. The peace offering was either (1) an 
offering to make peace or reconciliation with God (Lev. vii. 16), or (2) 
an offering of thanks for mercies received (Lev. vii. 12 — 15). See Kurz, 
Mosaische Opfer, pp. 130, 131. 

27. inqui7'ed of the Lord} They inquired of Jehovah, at the ark of 
the covenant of Elohim. Thus Jehovah and Elohim were convertible 
terms. See note on v. 18. 

in those days] i.e. just at the time of the war. Evidently this was 
not its usual place. See notes on vv. 1, 18. These words confirm the 
conclusion which has been there arrived at. 

28. Phinehas'] See Numb. xxv. 7; Josh. xxii. 13, 30. No more 
consistent character meets us in Scripture than that of Phinehas, both 
in the burning zeal of his youth and in the respect which his steady 
adherence to duty won for him in later years, as evidenced by his being 
chosen for the head of the embassy mentioned in Josh. xxii. 

stood before it] See Deut. x. 8, xviii. 5. 

or shall I cease?] This question was not previously put (v. 23). It 
implies a desire to abandon the conflict, a desire to which the favour- 
able answer of Jehovah puts an end. 

29. Hers in wait] The Israelites did not neglect worldly prudence. 
Their former method of attack was now exchanged for a more cautious 

30. at other times] Lit. as time after time. So next verse. 

31. smite of the people, and kill] Lit. to smite of the people (some) 

highways] See note on ch. v. 20. 

the house of God] Marg., Belh-el. This is decisive as to the fact that 

200 JUDGES, XX. [vv. 32—36. 

32 about thirty men of Israel. And the children of Benjamin 
said, They are smitten down before us, as at the first. But 
the children of Israel said, Let us flee, and draw them 

33 from the city unto the highways. And all the men of Israel 
rose up out of their place, and put themselves in array 
at Baal-tamar : and the Hers in wait of Israel came forth 
out of their places, even out of the meadows of Gibeah. 

34 And there came against Gibeah ten thousand chosen men 
out of all Israel, and the battle was sore : but they knew 

35 not that evil was near them. And the Lord smote Ben- 
jamin before Israel : and the children of Israel destroyed 
of the Benjamites that day twenty and five thousand and an 
hundred men : all these drew the sword. 

36 So the children of Benjamin saw that they were smitten : 
for the men of Israel gave place to the Benjamites, because 
they trusted unto the liers in wait which they had set beside 

Beth-el is meant. The road led to Beth-el. And there were the 
Israelite head-quarters, as we should say. 

Gibeah in the field] i.e. the outlying districts of Gibeah. Along 
both these highways the Israelites advanced. See Lieut. Conder's view 
of Gibeah in note on ch. xix. 12. 

33. Baal-tamar] i.e. place (Baal having frequently this sense) of 
the palm tree. If we are to believe Jewish tradition, this is now 
Attara, a large ruin near Gibeah (Conder). 

came forth] Rather, broke out, or, rushed forth. 

meadows] Ma'areh, Heb. This word is not easy to explain. The 
commentators generally prefer the rendering, (1) a bare place. The 
Peshito translates, (2) by cave (Ma'arath), which would certainly be a 
better place for concealment, but in this case one would have expected 
the form of the word which in Hebrew is called the construct, i.e. the 
form a noun takes when it has another depending upon it. The 
Vulgate, changing the last letter of the word, render (3) from the west. 
The LXX. takes it as a proper name, Maapayaf3e, while the Targum 
renders by a word kindred with Mishor, the usual expression for the 
table land beyond Jordan. The original has Geba here, as in v. 10. 
But no doubt Gibeah is meant. This account is very like the siege of 
Ai in Josh. viii. 

34. near them] Rather, coming close on them. See z>. 41 (and 

35. And the Loi'd smote] As elsewhere (see for instance ch. xviii. 
17 — 20; Josh. i. 12, iii. 2, hi. 17, iv. 10, 11), we have first a general 
account and then a more detailed one, vv. 36 — 43. 

36. they] i.e. the Israelites. See v. 32. 
beside] Lit. upon, i.e. against. 

w. 37—41.] JUDGES, XX. 201 

Gibeah. And the liers in wait hasted, and rushed upon 37 
Gibeah ; and the liers in wait drew themselves along, and 
smote all the city with the edge of the sword. Now there 38 
was an appointed sign between the men of Israel and the 
liers in wait, that they should make a great flame with 
smoke rise up out of the city. And when the men of Israel 39 
retired in the battle, Benjamin began to smite and kill of 
the men of Israel about thirty persons : for they said, Surely 
they are smitten down before us, as in the first battle. But 40 
when the flame began to arise up out of the city with a 
pillar of smoke, the Benjamites looked behind them, and 
behold, the flame of the city ascended up to heaven. And 41 
when the men of Israel turned again, the men of Benjamin 
were amazed : for they saw that evil was come upon them. 

37. rushed"] See ch. ix. 33, note. 

drew themselves along] Rather, advanced, see ch. iv. 6, but there 
is no preposition here. We have the same idiom in our expression 
draw near. 

38. there was an appointed sign] Heb., the appointed sign was, 

a great flame with smoke] This passage has given a good deal of 
trouble to the commentators. Literally it runs "to multiply" (or 
"multiply"), "their causing to go up the lifting up of the smoke 
from the city." The word translated here multiply is a common way 
of expressing size or quantity (a great flame, A.V.). It is the apoco- 
pated form of the Heb. imperative or infinitive that gives all the 
trouble. "Es muss hinaus," says Bertheau, following the Syriac. 
The LXX. (i.e. the Vatican Codex — the Alexandrian here varies 
considerably), changing the first letter of the word into one similar, 
reads sword, thus assimilating the incident to that in Josh. viii. 18, but 
proving that we cannot omit the word altogether. The Vulgate avoids 
the difficulty by a periphrasis. But there seems no very valid reason 
why we should not translate that they should make a great cloud (or 
column, see Jer. vi. 1, where it is translated "sign of fire" in the A.V.) 
of smoke to arise from the city. 

39. retired] Lit. turned, 

to smite and kill] See ^.31, note. 

40. But when the flame began to ascend] Lit. and the lifting up 
(the same word as in v. 38) began to go up. 

with a pilla?'] There is no with in the original. 
flame] Here the word is destruction (lit. completion). 

41. amazed] This word, which with us signifies great surprise, 
had a somewhat different meaning, corresponding to the original here, 
in the time when the A.V. was made. Connected with the word maze, 
it means to be in hopeless perplexity. See Ezek. xxxii. 10; Mark xiv. 

202 JUDGES, XX. [vv. 42—47. 

42 Therefore they turned their backs before the men of Israel 
unto the way of the wilderness; but the battle overtook 
them ; and them which came out of the cities they destroyed 

43 in the midst of them. Thus they inclosed the Benjamites 
round about, and chased them, and trode them down with 

44 ease over against Gibeah toward the sunrising. And there 
fell of Benjamin eighteen thousand men; all these were 

45 men of valour. And they turned and fled toward the wilder- 
ness unto the rock of Rimmon : and they gleaned of them 
in the highways five thousand men; and pursued hard after 
them unto Gidom, and slew two thousand men of them. 

46 So that all which fell that day of Benjamin were twenty 
and five thousand men that drew the sword; all these 

47 were men of valour. But six hundred men turned and fled 
to the wilderness unto the rock Rimmon, and abode in the 

33; 1 Pet. iii. 6. Also, As you like it, Act I. Sc. 2, "You amaze me, 

42. the way of the wilderness] See Josh. viii. 15, 24, xvi. 1. 
overtook] See ch. xviii. 22, and #.45. 

them which came out of the cities] The rest of the Benjamites, as 
distinguished from the men of Gibeah. 

43. with ease] Heb. Menuchah. The Vulgate translates, or rather 
paraphrases, "nor was there any rest of the dying," the LXX. strangely 
"to rest them rest." The passage has caused difficulty to most inter- 
preters. Dr Cassel translates "pursued them to their resting-place," 
i.e. to where they halted to take breath. Menuchah signifies rest, and 
the correct translation most likely is as A.V., and the meaning without 
any resistance. But Menuchah may be a proper name, as the marg. 
suggests, and the correct translation may be to Menuchah. There is a 
Sar (i.e. prince) of Menuchah mentioned in Jer. li. 59. The usual 
translation, however, of Sar Menuchah is chamberlain, and it must be 
confessed that territorial titles are unknown elsewhere in Hebrew 

over against] Lit., as marg., unto over against. 

45. the rock of Rimmon] The place is still called Rummon, and is 
"on the very edge of the hill country, with a precipitous descent 
towards the Jordan valley" (Canon Tristram, Bible Places, 109). It 
was about two miles north of et-Tell, supposed by many to be the site 
of Ai. This defines the position of the "wilderness" mentioned here 
and at the siege of Ai. 

gleaned] A remarkable metaphor. The destruction after the battle 
was to the slaughter in the battle, what the occasional gleaning of an 
ear of corn here and there is to the harvest itself. 

pursued hard] See v. 42. 

Gidom] is unknown. 

vv. 48; I—4-] JUDGES, XX. XXI. 203 

rock Rimmon four months. And the men of Israel turned 4 8 
again upon the children of Benjamin, and smote them with 
the edge of the sword, as well the men of every city, as the 
beast, and all that came to hand: also they set on fire all 
the cities that they came to. 

Ch. XXI. 1 — 25. How the tribe of Benjamin was preserved 
from extinction. 
Now the men of Israel had sworn in Mizpeh, saying, 21 
There shall not any of us give his daughter unto Benjamin 
to wife. And the people came to the house of God, and 2 
abode there till even before God, and lift up their voices, 
and wept sore ; and said, O Lord God of Israel, why is this 3 
come to pass in Israel, that there should be to day one 
tribe lacking in Israel ? And it came to pass on the mor- 4 

48. turned again] The Israelites, in their fury, destroyed not only 
the men of war, but the cities and all their defenceless inhabitants. 
This conduct admits of no justification, though they had been incensed 
by a shameless outrage, aggravated by the slaughter of many of their 
best troops. Hengstenberg, II. 3, 3, thinks that Deut. xiii. 12 — 18 
constitutes the ground of Israel's action. But this precept relates to 
the crime of idolatry. 

as well the men] As the Hebrew text stands, it is differently pointed, 
and must therefore be translated " as well the whole city." But as a 
slight change in the pointing makes infinitely better sense, the A.V. 
and most commentators have rendered as above. The LXX. translates 
i^Tjs. " Wickedness could never bragge of any long prosperitie, nor 
complaine of the lacke of paiment." Bp. Hall. 

came to to] See marg. 


1. had sworri] The oath is not recorded in the account of the 
meeting at Mizpeh, ch. xx. 1 — n. 

2. the house of God] Rather, Beth- el. 

before God] i.e. before the ark. See note on ch. xx. 18. 

zvept sore] Lit. wept a great weeping. "They have sworne and 
now upon cold bloud repent them. If the oath were not just, why 
would they take it? and if it were just why did they recant it? Oathes 
doe not only require justice, but judgment." Bp. Hall. 

3. be... lacking] Lit. be mustered. Hence to be missing at the 
muster as in 1 Sam. xx. 8, 18, 25, xxv. 7. The integrity of the family 
of Jacob was a point of honour among his descendants, a fact which in 
their first fury against the offending tribe they had altogether forgotten. 
"The Urim and Thummim approved the punishment of Benjamin, but 
not the oaths and cruelty with which it was accompanied." Cassel. 

204 JUDGES, XXI. [vv. 5—9. 

row, that the people rose early, and built there an altar, and 
s offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. And the chil- 
dren of Israel said, Who is there among all the tribes of 
Israel that came not up with the congregation unto the 
Lord? For they had made a great oath concerning him 
that came not up to the Lord to Mizpeh, saying, He shall 

6 surely be put to death. And the children of Israel repented 
them for Benjamin their brother, and said, There is one tribe 

7 cut off from Israel this day. How shall we do for wives for 
them that remain, seeing we have sworn by the Lord that 

8 we will not give them of our daughters to wives ? And they 
said, What one is there of the tribes of Israel that came not 
up to Mizpeh to the Lord? And behold, there came 

9 none to the camp from Jabesh-gilead to the assembly. For 

4. built there an altar] Perhaps nothing more is meant than that 
they prepared there an altar for the tabernacle which had been 
brought thither. David, it is true (2 Sam. xxiv. 25), and even Samuel 
(1 Sam. vii. 17) built another altar beside the altar in the tabernacle. 
See also ch. vi. 24. But it seems hardly likely that under the high-priest- 
hood of Phinehas what he regarded as so high a crime (Josh. xxii. 13 — 
20) would have been committed without protest from him, and quite as 
unlikely that if he had protested such protest would have been left 
unrecorded. Similar offerings are recorded to have been made in ch. 
xx. 26. If the altar were built then, it is nevertheless quite in. accord- 
ance with the style of the Hebrew historians to mention its building 
here. Cf. for instance Gen. xxviii. 19 with Judg. i. 23, Josh. iii. 12, 
with iv. 2, xi. 21 with xv. 14, 15. 

5. congregation] There are two words translated congregation in the 
A. V., the one referring rather to the place of meeting ('edah), the other 
(kahal — LXX. iKKXrja-ia — answering to our call) referring rather to the 
summons which brought them together. It is the latter which is used 

had 7?iade a great oath] Rather, the great oath was taken, just as 
modern canonists speak of "the greater excommunication." The 
penalty of death was reserved for the more heinous offences. See 
Exod. xxi. 12, xxxv. 2, &c. ; Levit. xx. 9; 10 Numb. i. 51. 

shall surely be put to death] Rather, shall surely die. The A. V. 
alternates between the two translations. 

6. And the children of Israel] Here, as usual in this section, we 
have a fuller repetition of the former narrative. In the middle of v. 8 
the history is once more taken up. 

8. of the tribes] Either we must take the word tribe as in ch. xx. 12, or 
supply the word " family" or " city." "What one city is there," &c. 
Jabesh-gilead] See 1 Sam. xi. 1 — 11, xxxi. 11 — 13; 2 Sam. ii. 4, 5. 

vv. 10— 12.] JUDGES, XXI. 20; 

the people were numbered, and behold, there were none of 
the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead there. And the congrega- 
tion sent thither twelve thousand men of the valiantest, and 10 
commanded them, saying, Go and smite the inhabitants of 
Jabesh-gilead with the edge of the sword, with the women 
and the children. And this is the thing that ye shall do, 
Ye shall utterly destroy every male, and every woman that " 
hath lien by man. And they found among the inhabitants 
of Jabesh-gilead four hundred young virgins, that had known " 
no man by lying with any male : and they brought them 
unto the camp to Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan. 

"The name is preserved in the Wady Yabes, a deep glen with a pevsn- 
nial stream running down from Mt Ajalon to the Jordan, which it enters 
a little south of Beth-shean." Tristram, Bible Places, p. 327. So also 
Robinson, Later Biblical Researches, p. 319 (3rd ed.). The town has 
now no name except Deir (convent). 
assembly} See congregation, v. 5. 

9. were numbered} Or, had been mustered. 

10. congregation] Here 'edah (o-waywyrj, LXX.). See note on 
v. 5. 

of the valiantest} Lit. of the sons of valour, as in ch. xx. 44, 46. 

Go and smite} For this barbarous command also there was no warrant 
in the law. From this and other circumstances, too numerous to mention 
here, we may learn how far the Law of Moses was in advance of the 
moral condition of those to whom it was given. Nevertheless, in spite 
of the failure of the Israelites to fulfil it, it was, even in the worst times, 
a perpetual silent witness for the truth, thus fulfilling the purpose as- 
signed to it by St Paul, Gal. iii. 24. See Introduction, Ch. II. 

11. utterly destroy} See note on ch. i. 17. 

12. And they found} Dr Cassel supposes that, as no account is 
given of the carrying out of this cruel sentence, it was not executed, but 
that the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead purchased their exemption by 
giving up 400 of their unmarried women. This is of course possible, 
but even if the more natural inference from the silence of the historian 
were not that the sentence was executed, the words "and they found" 
very forcibly suggest it. So also do the words "saved alive" in v. 14. 
"Foure hundred virgins of Gilead have lost parents, and brethren and 
kindred, and now fmde husbands in lieu of them. An inforced marriage 
is but a miserable comfort for such a lossc.Into what troublesome and 
dangerous straits do men thrust themselves by either unjust or incon- 
siderate vowes?" — Bp. Hall. 

Shiloh} The congregation had removed once again to their usual 
place of meeting. See v. 19. 

in the land of Canaan} A mark of accuracy which might escape us, 
did we fail to remember that Jabesh-gilead was not in the land of 
Canaan, but across Jordan. 

2o6 JUDGES, XXI. [vv. 13—19. 

13 And the whole congregation sent some to speak to the chil- 
dren of Benjamin that were in the rock Rimmon, and to 

14 call peaceably unto them. And Benjamin came again at 
that time ; and they gave them wives which they had saved 
alive of the women of Jabesh-gilead : and yet so they sufficed 

15 them not. And the people repented them for Benjamin, be- 
cause that the Lord had made a breach in the tribes of Israel. 

16 Then the elders of the congregation said, How shall we 
do for wives for them that remain, seeing the women are 

17 destroyed out of Benjamin ? And they said, There must be 
an inheritance for them that be escaped of Benjamin, that 

18 a tribe be not destroyed out of Israel. Howbeit we may 
not give them wives of our daughters : for the children of 
Israel have sworn, saying, Cursed be he that giveth a wife to 

19 Benjamin. Then they said, Behold, there is a feast of the 
Lord in Shiloh yearly in a place which is on the north side 

13. sent so?ne to speak] Heb. sent and spake. 

and to call peaceably tinto them] Lit. and they called to them peace, 
i.e. invited them to a friendly conference. 

14. and yet so they sufficed them not] Lit. and they found not suf- 
ficient for them thus. 

17. There must be an inheritance for them that be escaped out of Ben- 
jamin] Or (2) as Keil renders, possession of the saved shall be for Ben- 
ja??iin, or (3) a portion of escape remains for Benjamin, or (4) the in- 

heritance of the escaped is (the land which belongs) to Benjamin, i.e. the 
territory of Benjamin is the inheritance of those who have escaped. 
This gives the best sense. 

that a tribe be not destroyed] Rather, and a tribe snail not be wiped 
out. So LXX. See 2 Kings xxi. 13. Also cf. Deut. xxv. 5, 6. "If 
God cares so much for individuals, how much more for a whole tribe." 

18. Howbeit] Heb. and. 

19. Then they said] Heb. and they said. The last verse stated 
the difficulty in the way of carrying out the resolution of v. 17. Here 
we have its solution. 

feast] The word comes from a root signifying to dance. See 2 Sam. 
vi. 14; Ps. cl. 4, &c. Also v. 21. It was probably one of the three 
great feasts held in the year, but which of them we have no means of 
knowing. Hengstenberg and Jost, however, maintain that it is the 
Passover, and the former supposes the dances of the virgins to be in com- 
memoration of the rejoicings in Exod. xv. See Introduction, Ch. II. 

Shiloh] This has been identified with Seilun, a place answering to 
the description in v. 19. 

yearly] See note on ch. xi. 40. 

in a place which] The words "in a place" should be omitted. This 

vv. 20—22.] JUDGES, XXI. 207 

of Beth-el, on the east side of the highway that goeth up 
from Beth-el to Shechem, and on the south of Lebonah. 
Therefore they commanded the children of Benjamin, say- 20 
ing, Go and lie in wait in the vineyards; and see, and 21 
behold, if the daughters of Shiloh come out to dance in 
dances, then come ye out of the vineyards, and catch you 
every man his wife of the daughters of Shiloh, and go to the 
land of Benjamin. And it shall be, when their fathers or 22 
their brethren come unto us to complain, that we will say 
unto them, Be favourable unto them for our sakes : because 
we reserved not to each man his wife in the war: for ye 

minute description of the locality serves to explain the circumstances of 
the seizure of the virgins of Israel. The feast was kept a little to the 
east of the high road which led from Beth-el to the important town of 
Shechem. Beth-el was near the northern border of Benjamin, and 
Shiloh was not above ten miles to the northward. Thus the escape of 
the Benjamites into their own territory would be a matter of no great 
difficulty. This passage, though it is found in the LXX., may be a 
later insertion added at the time when Shiloh had ceased to be well- 
known to every Israelite (see Jer. vii. 12, 14, xxvi. 9). In David's time 
(see 1 Sam. vii. 2), it might be thought, Shiloh could hardly have needed 
a description, since it had so recently been the abode of the ark. But 
about one hundred years had elapsed from the time of the removal of 
the ark from Shiloh to the composition of this book. There was time 
for the site of Shiloh to be forgotten, especially if Shiloh were a district, 
as some have supposed, in which the ark was moved about, and its 
position at this particular time is thus indicated. 

Lebonah~\ Now Lubban. See Robinson, Researches in Palestine ', II. 
272 (3rd ed.). 

21. come ye out] Rather, ye shaU come out, and so throughout the 
verse. The reader is reminded of the Rape of the Sabines. 

and go] Rather, ye shall go », i.e. you will easily go. See note above, 
v. 19. 

22. Be /avoidable tmto them] This is a difficult verse. The only 
possible translation appears to be grant us them (i.e. the maidens) 
as a favour. And if it be objected that the word "them" is masculine, 
we may observe, not only that the masculine for the feminine is not 
unusual, but that it is applied to the virgins of v. 12, and that in the 
words "their fathers" and "their brothers" in this very verse the 
masculine and not the feminine pronoun is used. The LXX, rendered 
pity us in regard to them, the Chaldee, Syriac, Vulgate, incorrectly 
"have pity on them." 

because we reserved not] Lit. because we took not, i.e. from among 
those doomed to death. Our word except is literally to take out. Others, 
however, would render for we did not take each maris wife captive in 
war, i.e. as at Jabesh. To this may be objected that the Masorites as 

208 JUDGES, XXI. [vv. 23—25. 

did not give unto them at this time, that you should be 

23 guilty. And the children of Benjamin did so, and took 
them wives, according to their number, of them that danced, 
whom they caught : and they went and returned unto their 

24 inheritance, and repaired the cities, and dwelt in them. And 
the children of Israel departed thence at that time, every 
man to his tribe and to his family, and they went out from 

25 thence every man to his inheritance. In those days there 
was no king in Israel : every man did that which was right 
in his own eyes. 

well as the LXX. have "in the war," by which could hardly be meant 
the destruction of Jabesh. 

for ye did not give] The ye is emphatic "for it was not ye who gave 
(your daughters) to them." 

at t/iis time, that you should] Rather, then were ye transgressing, 
i.e. in that case you would have been guilty of a transgression. 

25. there was no king in Israel] This remark, doubtless written 
during the prosperous and orderly reign of David or Solomon, is no 
doubt indicative of the writer's belief that no such disorderly proceedings 
as these could have taken place under the regular government of a king, 
and may be regarded as an expression cf his thankfulness that his lot 
was cast in more settled times. 



The Name Elohim. 

In the note on ch. v. 8, an alternative rendering to " they chose new 
gods," that of the Vulgate "God chose new things," is mentioned. It 
should perhaps be explained that the word for "God" in Hebrew is in 
the plural, not, as might be expected, in the singular. The word Elohim 
is the plural of Eloah, a name derived from El, strength, also one of 
the names by which God is known to the Israelites. It is by many 
supposed to be what is called a pluralis excellentiae, that is to say a 
plural denoting some special dignity or excellence, just as monarchs call 
themselves "we," and the plural "you" has absurdly taken the place of 
the singular "thou" as the accustomed mode of address in many modern 
languages. Some, however, have regarded it as an indication of a 
plurality of persons in the Godhead. But it is perhaps best to under- 
stand it as expressive of the sum of many attributes. It is worthy of 
note that as the first idea of God entertained by the Aryan nations is 
brightness (Dyaus, Zeus, Deus), that of the Hebrews connected itself 
with power, until the attribute of perpetual self-existence {Ehveh, I am, 
from which comes Jahveh, "he is," commonly, but incorrectly pointed 
Jehovah) was revealed to Moses. For the name Jehovah see Note II. 
in i Samuel. 



The tradition about Sisera mentioned in the note on ch. iv. 2 is also 
to be found in a continuation of Jahn's Hebrew Commonwealth, by Pro- 
fessor Stuart, of the Theological College, Andover, U.S. This work 
was published in 1829. Here the descent of Rabbi Akiba from Sisera 
is mentioned with unhesitating confidence, but the only reference given 
is to Ganz, who wrote about a century after the Liber Jochassin. On 
examination, it appears that Ganz refers his readers to the Liber 
Jochassin aforesaid. 

judges !4 



Deborah's Song. 

The following version of Deborah's song is offered to the student as 
indicating (i) its parallelisms, and (2) the construction of the poem. An 
attempt has also been made to indicate (3) the alliteration, which is, 
however, by no means a prominent feature in this ode. 

Part I. 

The Gathering of the Tribes, 
1. Prelude. 

For that our leaders took the lead, 
For that the people willingly offered themselves, 
Bless ye the Lord ! 

2. Introduction, The glories of Jehovah, 
Hear, O ye kings ! 

Give ear, O ye chieftains ! 
I to Jehovah, even I, will sing: 

I will sing praise to Jehovah, the God of Israel. 
Jehovah, when Thou wentest forth from Seir; 

When Thou marchedst from the field of Edom; 
The earth trembled, the heavens also dropped, 

The clouds also dropped water ; 
The mountains melted L from the presence of Jehovah, 

Yon Sinai from the presence of Jehovah, God of Israel. 

3. Strophe. Israel's affliction. 
In the days of Shamgar the son of Anath, 

In the days of Jael, 
The highways were unoccupied 2 , 

And the travellers walked through by-ways. 
Rulers ceased 3 in Israel, they ceased 

Until that I Deborah arose, 

That I arose a mother in Israel. 
They chose new gods ; 

Then was war in the gates : 
Was a shield to be seen, or a spear 

Among forty thousand in Israel? 

4. Antistrophe. Israel's thanksgiving. 
My heart is with the governors of Israel ! 

With those who willingly offered themselves among the people. 
Bless ye the Lord ! 

1 Or, "flowed down." 2 Or, "the caravans ceased." 

3 Or, " the villages ceased." 


O ye who ride on white asses, 

Who sit on the seat of honour; 
And ye who pass by the way, 
Sing ye ! 

Safe home among the water-troughs from amid the shout of the 

There they rehearse the righteous acts of Jehovah, 

The righteous acts of His rule 1 in Israel. 
Then went down to the gates the people of Jehovah. 

Part II. 
The Battle. 

i. Prelude. 

Awake, awake, Deborah ! 

Awake, awake, utter a song ! 
Arise, Barak ! and lead thy captivity captive, O son of Abinoam ! 

2. Strophe I. The Praise of the Patriots. 
Then came down a remnant to 2 the great ones, 

The people of Jehovah came down to 2 me against the valiant ; 
From Ephraim came those whose root is in Amalek; 

Benjamin followed thee among thy people. 
From Machir came down rulers, 

From Zebulun those who muster the array ; 
And the princes of Issachar were with Deborah, 

And if Issachar, then Barak : 

Into the valley was he sent on foot 3 . 

3. Antistrophe I. The Reproach of tJie Laggards. 
Amid the water-courses of Reuben, 

High were the resolves of heart ; 
Why didst thou abide among the sheep-fold§, 

Listening to the pipings for the flocks? 
By the water-courses of Reuben great were the searchings of heart. 
Gilead dwelt beyond Jordan. 

Dan, why sojourned he by the ships ? 
Asher sat still by the sea shore, 

And on his creeks he kept his dwelling. 

4. Chorus. The praises of Zebulun and Naphtali. 
Zebulun is a people that jeoparded his life even unto death, 

And Naphtali, on the heights of the field. 

1 Or, " of His villages/' 2 Or, "for." 

3 Or, " into the valley they poured at his feet." 


5. Epode. The Defeat, 
Kings came ; they fought ; 

Then fought the kings of Canaan, 

At Taanach, by the waters of Megiddo: 
Spoil of silver took they none ! 
From heaven they fought, 

The stars in their courses fought against Sisera ! 
The torrent Kishon swept them away ; 

That ancient torrent, the torrent of Kishon : 
March on, my soul, in strength ! 
Then clanged the horse-hoofs 

In the mad career 1 , the mad career of the mighty ones. 

6. Strophe 2. The Curse of Meroz. 
Curse ye Meroz, said the angel of Jehovah ; 

Curse ye bitterly them that dwell in her ! 
For that they came not to the help of Jehovah, 

To the help of Jehovah among 2 the valiant ! 

7. Antistrophe 2. The praises ofjael. 
Blessed above women be Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite ! 

Blessed be she above women in the tent ! 
He asked water ; she gave him milk ; 

She brought him butter in a lordly dish; 
She put forth her hand to the tent-pin, 

And her right hand to the workmen's hammer. 
She smote Sisera with the hammer, crushed his head : 

And she crashed and smote through his temples. 
At her feet he bowed, he fell, he lay down, 

At her feet he bowed, he fell ; 
Where he bowed, there he fell down dead ! 

8. Epode. The i7iother of Sisera awaiti?ig his arrival. 
Through the window looked she and cried aloud, 
The mother of Sisera through the lattice : 
"Why is his chariot so long in coming? 
Why tarry the wheels of his chariots?" 
Her wise princesses answered her, 

Yea, she herself answered her own words ; 
"Surely they are finding, dividing the spoil ! 

One damsel, two damsels for each man of war, 
A spoil of divers colours for Sisera, 
A spoil of divers colours embroidered, 
Dyed and double embroidered, for 3 the necks of the spoil!" 

9. Chorus. 
So perish all Thine enemies, Jehovah! 
And let them that love Thee be as the going forth of the sun in his 
might ! 

1 This may either refer to the fugitives or the pursuers. 
8 Or, "against." 8 Or. "on." 


Jephthah's Vow. 

On a point where so much difference of opinion exists, the student 
may wish to have a list of the principal authorities on either side. As 
has been said, the early authorities, including Josephus and the Chaldee 
Paraphrast, Jonathan Ben Uzziel, were unanimous in favour of the 
belief that Jephthah put his daughter to death in strict fulfilment of his 
vow. Jonathan introduces a curious passage to this effect in his Targum. 
The passage runs as follows : " And he fulfilled the vow which he had 
vowed upon her, and she knew no man : and it was made a statute in 
Israel that no man should offer his son or his daughter for a burnt- 
offering, as did Jephthah the Gileadite, who did not consult Phinehas the 
priest ; for if he had consulted Phinehas the priest, he would have re- 
deemed her with money." The anachronism of about 250 years here is 
singular, but it does not of course affect the question how the Targum 
regards Jephthah as having acted. Rabbi David Kimchi (circ. 1200) 
appears to have been the first who held a contrary opinion. He was 
followed, after an interval of three centuries and a half, by Grotius, who 
says that he cannot believe that a man of whom faith was predicated 
(Heb. xi. 32) could have done such a deed. About a century later 
Ludovicus Capellus wrote a careful dissertation on the point, taking the 
same view, and Hengstenberg and other later authorities have also 
adopted it, some supposing that the Jewish virgins went to condole with 
Jephthah's daughter (see marg. ch. xi. 40) for four days in each year. Bp. 
Horsley believes that what "for two thousand years has puzzled all 
translators and expositors" has been " cleared up" by a sermon preached 
before the University of Oxford by Dr Randolph, Margaret Professor of 
Divinity, in 1766. This interpretation supposes that Jephthah vowed 
to the Lord what first came out of his house, and promised Him also a 
burnt-offering. Dr Adam Clarke inclined to this opinion. But the 
great weight of authority is on the other side. The Christian fathers are 
unanimous on the point. From the time of Tertullian (if the five 
metrical books against Marcion be his) onward, they with one consent 
explain the passage of a burnt-offering. They discuss the question 
whether the act be compatible with the saintliness ascribed to Jephthah 
in Heb. xi., and on the whole decide that it was not incompatible with 
it, on the ground that Jephthah must afterwards have repented. This 
is the view of Aquinas, in his questions (2, 2, quest. 88, Art. 2). 
Cornelius a Lapide follows on the same side. So does Calmet. Drusius 
asks why Jephthah did not redeem his daughter, referring to Levit. 
xxvii. 4 (see note on ch. xi. 35), and suggests that he was probably 
ignorant of the law on that point. Lightfoot (1602 — 1675) an d Rosen- 
muller (1768 — 1835) both believe that Jephthah offered his daughter 
in sacrifice. Thomas Scott (1747 — 1821) anticipates the remark of 
Hitzig (ch. xi. 37, note) that Jephthah's daughter would have had a 
whole life-time in which to bewail her virginity, so that she would not 
have needed the two months she asked for that purpose. Of writers 


during the present century, Jost, Ewald, Hitzig and Dean Milman may 
be mentioned as believing in the literal fulfilment of Jephthah's vow. 
A passage in the notes on the Douay Bible (ed. 1609) maybe interesting 
for its casuistry, based on the general opinion of the Fathers. It states 
that Jephthah did wrong to vow, but would have done worse had he not 
fulfilled his vow. And it comments with some severity upon the re- 
marks of a "new glosser of the English Bible," who said that by 
Jephthah's "rash vow and wicked performance his victory was defaced," 
and that he was "overcome with blind zeal, not considering whether 
the vow was lawful or no." The allusion is to the Geneva Version, 
published in 1560. 


The Physical features of Palestine as illustrating the 

It will be observed that the Israelites, after their occupation of Pales- 
tine, were chiefly a mountainous people. In the north, Tyre and Sidon, 
and in the south, Gaza and Ascalon, belonged to their enemies, and if 
reduced at all, were never permanently reduced. Dan and Asher ap- 
pear to be the only tribes which devoted themselves to maritime enter- 
prises, and the latter tribe largely availed itself of the assistance of the 
tributary Canaanites (ch. i. 31, 32). It has been conjectured (see Jost, 
Geschichte des Israelitischen Volkes^ I. 195) that agriculture in general 
flourished chiefly in the north, while Judah, with a less promising soil, 
reared at a greater expenditure of labour, corn, wine and oil. The 
smooth downs on the eastern side of the Jordan (known as the Mishor) 
were suited for cattle. Perhaps the cause which led to the eventual 
preponderance of Judah — for secondary causes need not be altogether 
left out of the account — was the fact that (1) the for the most part 
chalky and sterile soil needed careful terracing and irrigation (see note 
on Negeb, ch. i. 15), and that this tribe was inured to war by its constant 
conflicts with the Philistines, the most warlike race which inhabited 
Palestine. Thus it probably escaped to a great extent the calamities 
that fell on the rest of Israel, and having its hands fully occupied, held 
itself excused from taking any share in the conflicts of the remaining 
tribes — a selfish policy which ended in its complete subjugation by the 

This peculiar situation of the Israelites subserved a Divine purpose. 
Shut out by the Phoenician and Philistine cities from the sea coast, its 
own seaport towns left chiefly in the hands of their Phoenician inhabi- 
tants, cut off moreover by a wide tract of sterile land from the great 
highways of commerce in the East, the Israelites led an isolated life. 
This isolation was further increased by the disruption of the kingdom, 
and the consequent restriction of the Mosaic polity to the southern and 
more insignificant portion. Thus the influence of the Law was confined, 
as it was intended to be confined, to one people, until the time came 


when the "middle wall of parti tion ,, was to be broken down, and when, 
its scope enlarged, the preparatory dispensation should merge into one 
better adapted to the needs of humanity. 

The physical features of the country serve to explain the history in 
one other respect. They render intelligible the narrative of the 
hostilities at Gibeah. The unresisting slaughter of so vast a host by so 
small a body would be inexplicable, as well as the selection of one par- 
ticular tribe for the attack, did we not remember that the Israelites were 
evidently (see note on ch. iv. 3) but scantily provided with the appliances 
of war, and that the country to the immediate north of Jerusalem was 
precipitous, and therefore placed the attacking party at an immense 
disadvantage. The only means, either at Ai or Gibeah, of capturing the 
city was by drawing the defenders away from their vantage ground by a 
feigned flight. This circumstance may assist the explorer in identifying 
Gibeah, the site of which has not been positively ascertained, since 
Lieut. Conder, the latest authority, is at issue with Canon Tristram and 
earlier explorers in fixing it at Tuleil el Ful. That it was a town is 
clear from ch. xix. 15. That it was not Geba, though it is called so 
more than once in the sacred narrative, appears from Josephus* account 
of its distance from Jerusalem, as well as from the whole course of the 
narrative, which forbids us to suppose that it could have been more 
than a very short distance from Jerusalem. Lastly, it must have been 
in a ravine or on a rock, where the slings of the Benjamites could be 
used with good effect upon the helpless masses of their opponents. 


Words and phrases explained are in Italics ; also modern names of places. 

Abdon, 154 

Abel-cheramim, 149 

Abel-meholah, 116 

Abi-ezer, Abi-ezrite, 102, 108, 118 

Abimelech, 126 — 139 

Accho {Acre), 57 

Achsah, 49 

Achzib, 57 

Adoni-bezek, 45 

Ahiman, 49 

Ahlab, 57 

Ajalon, Aijalon, 58, 154 

Akiba, Rabbi, 78, 209 

Akrabbim, 59 

all-to-brake, 138 

Amalek, 71, 91 

amazed, 201 

Amorites, 58 

Anak, sons of, 52, 54, 58 

angel of the Lord, 59, 95, 101 

Aphik, 57 

Arad, 52 

armed, 113 

Arnon, 145 

Aroer, 147 

Artemis Orthosia, 69 

Arumah, 138 

Asherah, 69 

Askelon (or Ashkelon), 53 

Ashtaroth, 63 

Baal-berith, 127, 137 

Baal-hermon, 63 

Baalim, ib. 

Baal-tamar, 200 

Balak, 147 

banisters (or balusters), 74 

Barak, 23, 79, 8i 

Beer, 132 

"bees, 100 

Beisan, 55 

Beitin, 54 

Belial, sons of, 191 

Beth-el, 54, 196, 203 

Bethlehem (of Judah), 178, 186 

Bethlehem (of Zebulun), 154 

Beth-rehob, 184 

Beth-shean, 55 

Beth-shemesh, 57 

Beth-shittah, 116 

Bezek, 45 

bleati?igs of the flocks, 93 

Bochim, 60 

Book of the Wars of Jahveh, 10 

bottle, 84 

bramble, 131 

breaches, 93 

burnt offerings, 198 

cake, 113 

Caleb, 49, 50 

Camon, 140 

camp of Dan, 159 

Canaanites, 44, 69 

captain, 144 

captivity of the land, 185 

Carchemish, 55 

carriage, 183 

caves, 99 

cedars of Lebanon, 131 

chains, 124 

change of garments, 161 

chariots of iron, 53 

Chemosh, 147 

children of the east, 22, 99 

Chomara, 178 

Chronology, 34 — 37 

Chushan-rishathaim, 21, 70 

Cohen, 178 

collars* 124 



concubine, 126 

congregation, 204 
cover the feet, 74 
cruelty to captives, 46 
curses, power of, 139 

Dagon, 173 

Dan, 179, 180, 182 — 186 

Dan even tinto Beer-skeba, 193 

Deborah, 78, 79 

Deborah's song, 32 — 34, 85, 210 — 212 

Delilah, 169 

dens, 99 

discomfited, 82 

divers colours of needlework on both sides, 

divisions of Reuben, 92 

Dodo, 140 

doors in the east, 74 

Dor, 55 

draw to%vard, 80 

ear-rings, 123 

Eglon, 72 — 74, 142 

Ehud, 23, 72 — 74 

Ekron, 53 

Elohim, 167, 174, 209 

Elon, 154 

'Emek, 53, 58 

En-hakkore, 168 

Ephah, 104 

Ephod, 125 

Ephraim, 56, 9T, 117 

Esdraelon, Valley of, 108 

Eshtaol, 159 

Etam, 165 

family, 155, 178, 183 
father-in-law, 82 
father's house, 104 

feast, marriage, 161, 162 

feigned flight, 196 
fill the hand, 178 
flame with smoke, 201 

foxes, 164 

Gaal, 133 
Gaza, 52, 168 
Gerizim, 130 
Gezer, 56 

Gibeah, 189 — 203, 215 
Gideon, 24, 101 — 126 
Gilead, 143 
Gilead, Mount, in 
Gilgal, 60 
go up, 45 
grasshopper, 100 
green withs, 170 
grove, 69, 106, 107 

hair breadth, 197 
Hamath, 68 
Harosheth, 78 
Havoth-jair, 140 

Hazor, 77 

Hebron, 48 

Heres, Mount, 58 

Hermon, 68 

highway, 88 

hill country of Judaea, 47 . 

hip and thigh, 165 

Hittites, 54 

Hivites, 68 

hollow place that was in the jaw, 168 

Hormah, 52 

hospitality, eastern, 83 

house of God, 196, 203 

house of his father, 176 

hyke, 124 

Ibleam, 55 

Ibzan, 154 

in the ordered place, 106 

Ishmaelites, 124 

Jabbok, 145 
Jabesh-gilead, 204 
jackals, 164 
Jael, 84, 85, 88, 95 
jahaz, 147 
J air, 140 
Jebus, 188 
Jebusites, 54 
Jehovah, 43 
jeopardy, 93 

Jephthah, 19, 24, 143—153, 2x3 
Jephthah's daughter, 149, 213 
Jephunneh, 50 
Jericho, 51, 71 
Jerubbaal, 107, 127 
Jerusalem, 47, 54, 188 
Jether, 122 

Jezreel, Valley of, 108 
Judges, 17, 65 

Judges, Book of, an integral part of the 
historical books of the Jews, 13, 43 

Kadesh, 146 
Karkor, 120 
Kedesh, 79 
Kenaz, 50 
Kenite, 51 
Kitron, 56 

Kishon, brook, 81, 94 
Kirjath-arba, 48 
Kirjath-jearim, 182 
Kirjath-sepher, 49 

Laish, 180 

Lapidoth, Lappidim, 79, no, 164 

lattice, 96 

left-handed, 72 

Lehi, 166 

Lejj&n, 56 

Levite, 178 

lewdness, 194 

loaves, 119 

lord, 174 

lordly disk, 95 



Machir, 91 

made merry, 133 

Mahaneh-dan, 182 

Manasseh, 55, cjt, 115, 148 

Manasseh (for Moses), 185 

Manoah, 156 — 159 

meadow, 200 

Megiddo, 56, 94 

Meimra, 43, 101 

Menuchah, 202 

Meonenim, 135 

Meroz, 95 

Micah, 176 

middle-watch, 115 

Midian, 98 

Millo, 129 

Minchah, 72, 104 

Minnith, 149 

Mishna, 172 

Mizpah or Mizpeh, 143, 193 

moe (or md), 1 76 

mountains, the abode of freedom, 75 

Nablous, 128 
Nahalol (or Nahallal) 56 
nail, of the tent, 84 
Naphtali, 57, 81 
Nazarite, 156 
Neapolis, 128 
Negeb, 47 

no magistrate in the land that might 
put them to shame in anything, 181 

oak, 102 

oak of the sorcerers, 135 
occupied, 170 
Ophrah, 102, 126 
Oreb, 117 
ornaments, 122 
Othniel, 23, 50, 70, 71 
ex -goad, 77 

Palestine, geography of, 214 
Palm-trees, city of, 51, 71 
parable, Jotham's, 130 
peace offerings, 199 
pen of the writer, 92 
Penuel, 120 
Perizzites, 88, 90 
Perazon, 45, 69 
Petra, 59 
Philistines, 67, 159 — 175 

lords of, 67, 173, 174 

Phinehas, 15, 16, 19, 199 

Pilegesh, 126 

fin of the beam, 171 

Pirathonite, 154 

plain of Meonenim, 135 

poetry, Hebrew, 29—32 

porch, 74 

present, 72 

provender, 190 

purple, 124 

quarries, 72 

quotation of earlier books, 104, 105 

Ramah, 189 

Ramath-lehi, 167 

repentance of God, how understood, 66 

riddles, 161 

rock, the, 59 

Samson, 23, 25 — 28, 155 — 176 

Scythopolis, 55 

secret, 158 

Seirath, 71 

Sepulchres, family, 126, 176 

serve the men of Hamor the father 

of Shechem, 134 
Shaalbim, 58 
Shamgar, j6, 86 
Shamir, 140 
Shechem, 127 
Shechina, 101 
sheets, 161 
shekel, 124 

,, of silver, 170 
Shephelah, 48 
Sheshai, 49 
Shibboleth, 153 
Shiloh, 207 
shock, 164 
Sihon, 147 
Simeon, 44 
Sorek, 169 
spear, 89 
spirit, evil, 132 
strange woman, 145 
street, 189 

strong drink (Shecar) 156 
Succoth, 119 
Suffetes, 17, 65 
summer parlour, 73 

Taanach, 55, 94 

Tabbath, 116 

Tabor, Mount, 80 

Talmai, 49 

teraphim, 178 

terebinth, 101 

Thebez, 138 

Theophanies, 101 

thousand, 103 

threshed, 102 

timbrel, 148 

Timnath, 159 

Timnath-heres, 62 

Tirosh, 131 

Tob, 144 

Tola, 140 

Tuleil-el-Ful, 189, 215 

typical character of Jewish history, 28 

under-kings, 46 

undesigned coincidences, 100, 109, 193 

Urim, 15, 43 

utterly destroyed, 52 

220 INDEX. 

vain and light persons ; 129 Zaanaim (Zaanannim), 82 

valley, 48, 52, no Zalmon, 137 

victuals, 112, 179, 195 Zalmunna, 122 

villages, 88, 90 Zaphon, 152 

Zebah, 122 

went a whoring, 65 Zebul, 133, 134 

white asses, 89 Zeeb, 117 

wilderness of Judah, 51 Zephath (Hormah) 52 

wine, 156 Zererath, 116 

with ease, 202 Zidon, Zidonians, 82, 181 

would dwell, 56 Zorah, 255 

ye Gileadites are fugitives of Ephraim, 



General Editor, The Very Rev. J. J. S. Perowne, 
Dean of Peterborough. 

#pmionsJ oi tf)t press* 

%t It is difficult to commend too highly this excellent series" — Guardian. 

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many to misunderstand its character and underrate its value. The books 
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able for general use." — Academy. 

" One of the most popular and useful literary enterprises of the 
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11 Of great value. The whole series of comments for schools is highly 
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1 Samuel, by A. F. Kirkpatrick. "Remembering the interest 
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reserve, which contrast most favourably with the superficial dogmatism 
which has too often made the exegesis of the Old Testament a field for 
the play of unlimited paradox and the ostentation of personal infalli- 
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that of one who has to depend for his Hebrew upon secondhand 
sources. " — Academy \ 

"The Rev. A. F. Kirkpatrick has now completed his commentary 
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use. ' ' — A cademy. 

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"(i) The Acts of the Apostles. By J. Rawson Lumby, D.D. 
(2) The Second Epistle of the Corinthians, edited by Professor Lias. 
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The Epistle to the Ephesians. By Rev. H. C. G. Moule, M.A. 
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by theological students than ' The Cambridge Bible for Schools and 
Colleges,' and there will be no number of it more esteemed than that 
by Mr H. C. G. Moule on the Epistle to the Philippians" — Record. 

" Another capital volume of 'The Cambridge Bible for Schools and 
Colleges.' The notes are a model of scholarly, lucid, and compact 
criticism." — Baptist Magazine. 

Hebrews. " Like his (Canon Farrar's) commentary on Luke it 
possesses all the best characteristics of his writing. It is a work not 
only of an accomplished scholar, but of a skilled teacher." — Baptist 

" We heartily commend this volume of this excellent work." — ■ 
Sunday School Chronicle. 

"The General Epistle of St James, by Professor Plumptre, D.D. 
Nevertheless it is, so far as I know, by far the best exposition of the 
Epistle of St James in the English language. Not Schoolboys or 
Students going in for an examination alone, but Ministers and Preachers 
of the Word, may get more real help from it than from the most costly 
and elaborate commentaries." — Expositor. 

The Epistles of St John. By the Rev. A. Plummer, M.A., D.D. 
"This forms an admirable companion to the * Commentary on the 
Gospel according to St John,' which was reviewed in The Churchman 
as soon as it appeared. Dr Plummer has some of the highest qualifica- 
tions for such a task ; and these two volumes, their size being considered, 
will bear comparison with the best Commentaries of the time." — The 

" Dr Plummer's edition of the Epistles of St John is worthy of its 
companions in the * Cambridge Bible for Schools' Series. The 
subject, though not apparently extensive, is really one not easy to 
treat, and requiring to be treated at length, owing to the constant 
reference to obscure heresies in the Johannine writings. Dr Plummer 
has done his exegetical task well." — The Saturday Review. 



with a Revised Text, based on the most recent critical authorities, and 1 

English Notes, prepared under the direction of the General Editor, 

The Very Reverend J. J, S. PEROWNE, D.D. 

11 Has achieved an excellence which puts it above criticism" — Expositor.. 
St Matthew. " Copious illustrations, gathered from a great variety 
of sources, make his notes a very valuable aid to the student. They 
are indeed remarkably interesting, while all explanations on meanings, 
applications, and the like are distinguished by their lucidity and good 
sense."— Pall Mall Gazette. 

St Mark. * ' The Cambridge Greek Testament of which Dr Maclear's 
edition of the Gospel according to St Mark is a volume, certainly 
supplies a want. Without pretending to compete with the leading 
commentaries, or to embody very much original research, it forms a 
most satisfactory introduction to the study of the New Testament in 
the original.... Dr Maclear's introduction contains all that is known of 
St Mark's life; an account of the circumstances in which the Gospel 
was composed, with an estimate of the influence of St Peter's teaching 
upon St Mark ; an excellent sketch of the special characteristics of this 
Gospel ; an analysis, and a chapter on the text of the New Testament 
generally. " — Saturday Review. 

St Luke. "Of this second series we have a new volume by 
Archdeacon Farrar on St Luke, completing the four Gospels. ...It 
gives us in clear and beautiful language the best results of modern 
scholarship. We have a most attractive Introduction. Then follows 
a sort of composite Greek text, representing fairly and in very beautiful 
type the consensus of modern textual critics. At the beginning of the 
exposition of each chapter of the Gospel are a few short critical notes 
giving the manuscript evidence for such various readings as seem to- 
deserve mention. The expository notes are short, but clear and helpful. 
For young students and those who are not disposed to buy or to study 
the much more costly work of Godet, this seems to us to be the best 
book on the Greek Text of the Third Gospel."— Methodist Recorder. 

St John. " We take this opportunity of recommending to ministers 
on probation, the very excellent volume of the same series on this part 
of the New Testament. We hope that most or all of our young ministers 
will prefer to study the volume in the Ca?nbridge Greek Testament for 
Schools." — Methodist Recorder. 

The Acts of the Apostles. "Professor Lumby has performed his 
laborious task well, and supplied us with a commentary the fulness and 
freshness of which Bible students will not be slow to appreciate. The 
volume is enriched with the usual copious indexes and four coloured 
maps." — Glasgow Herald. 

I. Corinthians. "Mr Lias is no novice in New Testament exposi- 
tion, and the present series of essays and notes is an able and helpful 
addition to the existing books." — Guardian. 

The Epistles of St John. "In the very useful and well annotated 
series of the Cambridge Greek Testament the volume on the Epistles 
of St John must hold a high position ... The notes are brief, well 
informed and intelligent." — Scotsman. 




%* Many of the books in this list can be had in two volumes, Text 
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